Over the past several weeks, Australia has experienced extreme wildfires which threaten wildlife all over the continent and continue to this day. Now, another extreme weather event has befallen Australia, as golf ball-sized hailstones have fallen from the sky in Canberra, destroying vehicles and threatening human safety and property. The hail arrived alongside severe thunderstorms, which left two tourists in the hospital after they were struck by lightning. The hail has already caused serious damage in Australia; glasshouses in which studies on crop sustainability were being conducted were destroyed by the hail, ruining the scientific endeavors conducted in the building and leading the Insurance Council of Australia to declare the storms a “catastrophe.”
Given the apocalyptic nature of the wildfires that have destroyed large swaths of the country, the rain provided by the storms is welcome, but the destructive hail it brought only contributes to more misery in a country besieged by recent rare and extreme weather events. Unfortunately, such weather events are likely to continue throughout the coming years and decades, as scientists believe that the weather was made much more powerful by the effects of climate change, which will only worsen over the next century irrespective of whether humans eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions, which itself seems unlikely. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology warned of “giant” hailstones in advance of the storm, but it was impossible for people to prepare for the destruction that the hail wrought upon the city of Canberra and the surrounding areas. The hail injured a large number of birds, many of which were brought to vets by concerned passersby.
While the hailstorm lasted just thirty minutes, it badly damaged hundreds of cars and buildings, according to The Guardian. Fortunately, no deaths were reported, although two people were treated for minor injuries from the hail. As a result of the storm, 20,000 houses and buildings lost power in the south-east part of the country. The winds from the storm were so powerful that they ripped branches from trees and knocked over trees, in some cases causing people to be trapped in their cars on the road as felled trees blocked their path. Additionally, the National Museum of Australia experienced serious damage as the storm tore off part of the building’s roof, caused leaks in hallways, and damaged shade cloths, leading the building to close its doors. According to the Insurance Council of Australia, more than 11,000 claims have been filed in connection with the storm.
And as if these extreme weather events weren’t enough, the weather has also brought huge dust storms to the country, which were so powerful that they blocked out the sunlight. New South Wales was particularly affected, and citizens shared videos of the tremendous storms on social media, drawing significant attention online. People around the world have chipped in to help Australia in the aftermath of these wildfires; for instance, runners are participating in a virtual race for charity in order to raise money to benefit the country. With hope, calm weather will return to Australia soon, and the country will have a chance to recover.