North hails the wet

Hail storm in Townsville

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Hugh Philp of Wyena Station, about 130km north east of Clermont took this photo of the approaching storm.

Hugh Philp of Wyena Station, about 130km north east of Clermont took this photo of the approaching storm.

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Hail and thunderstorms brought much needed rain to parts of North and Central Queensland at the weekend.

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HAIL has pounded parts of North Queensland that have not witnessed the icy phenomenon for over 35 years.

Severe thunderstorms which formed out west around Hughenden brought much needed showers throughout the region as they tracked toward the coast on Friday.

There was reports of hail at Hughenden, Charters Towers and Townsville on Friday, while Cardwell also received hail in a storm on Saturday.

Bureau of Meteorology Townsville meteorologist Andrew Cearns said the weather event was “pretty rare,” with coastal areas of North Queensland receiving hail for the first time since 1982.

Mr Cearns said 2.5cm hail stones were reported at Kelso on Friday night, with 3cm stones hitting Cardwell on Saturday.

“There was some reported hail in the Townsville area, which is pretty unusual to have hail that size reported on the coast in North Queensland.

“There was an upper trough that as it was coming through destabilised the atmosphere, and with the upper atmosphere colder than usual it kicked it off.”

Mr Cearns said the isolated thunderstorms brought rain throughout the region, with Townsville Airport recording 31mm in the 24 hours to 9am on Saturday.

Rollingtone received 24mm, Alva Beach received 12mm, Charters Towers recorded 10mm and Hughenden Airport recorded 2mm in that time.

“It was very isolated, there were some heavier falls in some areas out there.

“It was fairly unusual, we usually don’t start seeing too much storm activity until November onwards.”

Mr Cearns said forecasters were still predicting below average rainfall in the next few months as we move toward a marginal El Nino situation.

He said generally, those seasons were dryer, but while there were less thunderstorms they tended to be more severe.

The storms moved north of Saturday, with 36mm recorded at Gairloch near Ingham, 30mm of rain and hail in Cardwell, and 64mm in Mossman.

Sherri Philp, at Wyena Station, 130km north east of Clermont received 50mm and small hail in a storm on Saturday, after receiving 8mm on Friday.

“We’ve been a bit luckier than most, with good rain at the end of February, we got about 8 inches back then,” Mrs Philp said.

“It was dry, but we were ok. The rain was all around us for a few days and we didn’t think we’d get under any, so we really appreciated the rain we got.

“This will set us up really well, to retain that moisture in the ground now, will set us up for the growing season.”

Mrs Philps and her family run a Droughtmaster stud on their 12,545 hectare property, and said the timing of the rain was perfect.

“Our calves have all hit the ground and we’ve just put out bulls out and joined our whole breeding herd just before the rain.

“It is coming up to our family bull sale in Charters Towers, so hopefully the rain around will put people in a better buying mood.”

For cane growers in the Herbert region, the rain brought welcome relief in what has been a particularly dry season.

Herbert River Canegrowers chair Michael Pisano said while the showers were patchy, some growers did quite well.

His property received about 43mm over Friday and Saturday nights, while a grower in Macnade got 60mm.

“It wasn’t all over, but it is absolutely welcome. Those that got it are not complaining at all. 

“For the crop it just puts a bit of moisture in the soil and keeps it alive a bit longer, we are hoping there will be some more follow up rain.”

“The young plants in some parts really suffering the drought, this will put a bit of moisture in and liven it up a bit.”

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