An insurance catastrophe has been declared after a hailstones the size of golf balls smashed cars and buildings around Australia on Sunday and Monday.
The hail storms that battered Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney have caused an estimated $320 worth of damage, according to 29,000 claims lodged so far.
Two thirds of the claims are for damage to cars, the Insurance Council of Australia said.
One video from Canberra showed hailstones smashing through the skylight of a doctors’ surgery and falling inside while other clips showed the huge stones cracking car windscreens.
The ICA has declared a ‘catastrophe’ meaning that claims relating to storm damage will be prioritised by insurers.
Experts are expecting the damage figures to climb. A storm that hit Sydney in December 2018 saw about 143,000 claims lodged, worth $1.357 billion.
The extraordinary hails storms that battered Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney have caused an estimated $97million worth of damage. Pictured: The storm in Canberra on Monday
One video (above) from Canberra showed hailstones smashing through the skylight of a doctors’ surgery
Fallen trees outside a home at Caringbah in Sydney as the clean up operation was under way
ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller said: ‘The insurance council’s catastrophe declaration means those claims are prioritised by insurers, so insurers will be looking at how best to help those customers and help them as quickly as possible.
Referring to recent bushfires which have caused more than $300million of damage, he added: ‘It is certainly a very angry summer and we’re not even midway through the disaster season yet.
The hailstorm first smashed Melbourne on Sunday night, before hitting Canberra at midday and moving up New South Wales to reach Sydney’s Sutherland shire on Monday night.
How does this hailstorm compare to others in the past?
The extraordinary hails storms that battered Melbourne, Canberra and southern Sydney have caused an estimated $97million worth of damage so far.
In December 2018 a hailstorm struck Sydney and the Central Coast causing $1.3billion worth of damage.
The biggest storm was the 1999 storm in Sydney.
The costliest natural disaster in Australia’s history caused $1.7billion worth of insured damages.
An emergency warning asking residents to move indoors was issued about 4.45pm on Sunday for Melbourne city, Caulfield, Glen Waverley, Altona, waters off Sandringham and Williamstown.
The Red Hot Summer Tour at Mornington Racecourse was cancelled amid fears of safety over hail and lightning.
The storm then hit Canberra on Monday, as hailstones the size of gold balls rained down on Parliament House.
A record number of calls for help were made to the ACT Emergency Services Agency.
About 1,900 calls were made between midday and 8pm on Monday, more than triple the annual average.
Buildings and hundreds of cars were damaged as hail pelted the capital in a 30-minute frenzy of wild weather before the sun reappeared.
Emergency services worked through the night to respond to roof and window damage, fallen trees and electrical hazards.
Car windscreens were obliterated the Australian National University and Old Parliament House, while a wind gust of 117km/h was recorded at Canberra Airport.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) was badly damaged with hail penetrating glasshouse roofs.
A car damaged by a fallen tree at Caringbah in Sydney, Tuesday after the storms
The storm then hit Canberra on Monday, as hailstones the size of gold balls rained down
A clean-up is underway after severe thunderstorms hit Sydney (pictured), Newcastle and Wollongong, with the NSW SES responding to more than 800 calls overnight
The storm damaged 65 glasshouses and wiped out years of research.
At least two people were treated by ACT Ambulance Service for minor injuries from the storm.
The National Museum of Australia shut its doors after the storm tore external roofing, damaged shade cloths and caused leaks in corridors, the cafe and galleries.
Animals were injured during the storm, with a koel, raven, galah, cockatoo and magpie all being treated at the Canberra Referral Hospital.
Finally, the storm reached the outskirts of Sydney on Monday night as emergency services responded to 800 calls for help.
Some 14,000 Ausgrid customers lost power after strong winds, lightning and hail struck Sydney’s Sutherland Shire and northern beaches areas, the company posted on social media on Monday evening.
Fewer than 4,000 customers remained powerless on Tuesday morning.
‘The areas of Sutherland, Miranda and Caringbah were really impacted. We have teams out today, doing significant work … we’ve done nearly 70 per cent of the jobs overnight,’ SES assistant commissioner Paul Bailey told ABC TV.
‘It’s been an amazing season … the weather has been extremely unusual.’
Storm clouds gather over Sydney Harbour on Monday night before dumping rain on the city
The storm reached the outskirts of Sydney on Monday night as emergency services responded to 800 calls for help. Pictured: A car damaged
A 16-year-old boy was struck by lightning in the Blue Mountains on Monday afternoon, while a nearby 24-year-old man was also treated.
Both were taken to Nepean Hospital in a stable condition.
A 65-year-old man was was treated for multiple injuries and airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in a stable condition after a large tree crashed through a glass door at a house in Harrington on the mid-north coast.
NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott earlier on Monday warned of debris in rainfall run-off in fire-affected areas.
‘Run-off from rainfall in fire-affected areas may behave differently and be more rapid resulting in flash flooding which may also contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks,’ Mr Elliott said in a statement.
Hail smashed into cars on a street in Canberra on Monday during the horrific storm
Car windscreens were obliterated the Australian National University and Old Parliament House (pictured), while a wind gust of 117km/h was recorded at Canberra Airport
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Gabrielle Woodhouse also said fire-affected areas could experience run-off, flash flooding and roadways covered by debris.
‘Due to the fire and drought conditions, quite a lot of the vegetation is weakened and this means that trees and trees’ branches are going to be much more likely to come down due to wind gust or a bit of heavy hail,’ Ms Woodhouse said.
Downpours have provided relief for parts of drought-stricken NSW in recent days and helped firefighters slow the spread of bushfires and build containment lines ahead of increased fire danger mid-week.
A spike in heat is expected for Thursday and Friday.
The SES said NSW residents could help prevent storm damage by trimming back overhanging branches, cleaning gutters and downpipes and securing or putting away loose items around the yard or balcony.
Wind warnings are in place for the Byron, Coffs, Macquarie and Eden coasts.
An Instagram photo shows damage to cars after the horror hail storm struck Melbourne