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Thunderstorms, heavy hail hit Canberra

Dark clouds over Canberra before the storm.

Dark clouds over Canberra before the storm. Photo: Rohan Thompson

The ACT was buffeted by gale-force winds and torrential rain on Wednesday afternoon, with the territory receiving its monthly rainfall in just three hours.

The State Emergency Service received 528 calls for help in the wake of the storm, mostly relating to flooding in houses and downed power lines.

The storm was picking up speed - all of a sudden, heard a couple of 'cracks' and blam, the roof of my car caved in. 

Nick Stannard, Queanbeyan

Crews worked until 11.30pm on Wednesday, with 107 jobs outstanding on Thursday.

During and after shots of a storm water drain in Woden.

During and after shots of a storm water drain in Woden. Photo: Elizabeth

"The ACT Rural Fire Service is also providing chainsaw assistance at a property on the Kings Highway," a spokesperson said.

"Crews are cutting through fallen trees along the driveway to gain access to a garage which has a large tree across it."

Tuggeranong saw the most storm activity and about 80mm of rain but other suburbs around Canberra also reported major flooding and roof damage.

People were injured in motor vehicle accidents and by falling trees, including a mother and her baby who were hit by a falling tree branch outside Queanbeyan Public School. The mother had been waiting for an after-school pick-up when the accident occurred and she has been taken to hospital with head injuries.

SES work at a home in Gowrie to stabalise a pergola damaged in Wednesday's storms. Click for more photos

Canberra hit by storms

Our readers got busy photographing as a summer storm hit Canberra on February 19. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Meantime a Queanbeyan man had his car crushed by a falling tree branch, while he was eating lunch in a Yarralumla car park on Alexandrina Drive.

"The storm was picking up speed - all of a sudden, heard a couple of 'cracks' and blam, the roof of my car caved in," Nick Stannard said.

Weatherzone: ACT storm tracker



The high rainfall caused widespread flooding across Canberra, with  eight classrooms and five offices at MacKillop Catholic College's senior campus affected by 20-centimetre-deep floodwaters.

Principal Michael Lee said no classes would be cancelled because  of the flooding, but there had been significant damage  to the school's classrooms.

"I have seen flooding before, but nothing like this," he said.

A tree down at Queanbeyan School where a mother and her child were injured.

A tree down at Queanbeyan School where a mother and her child were injured. Photo: Benjamin Doherty

Canberra Hospital also suffered flooding during the storm, with a "number of areas" of the hospital affected.

"[It] caused some disruption to services for a short period, but we are now largely back to business as usual," ACT Health director-general Dr Peggy Brown said.

Dr Brown said a small number of outpatients were affected by the flooding and they were being contacted to make alternative arrangements.

Flooded streets were  common, with one woman losing her dog  after it was washed down an uncovered manhole. Canberra Airport grounded flights intermittently during the storm, at some points delaying all flights in and out of the territory.

The ACT's roads were severely affected by the weather, with flooding and fallen trees blocking traffic and delaying motorists.

There were a number of car accidents across Canberra, including one car which rolled on the Federal Highway and a separate collision between a car and a bus. A woman was also injured in Fyshwick when a branch smashed through her windscreen on Ipswich Street.

Winds reached gale-force speeds of up to 56km/h at 2.39pm, with gusts reaching 74km/h.

One Fyshwick business on Lithgow Street lost half its roof and several other businesses were affected by fallen trees. Tuggeranong had the highest rainfall for the territory, with 75.8 millimetres falling in just 3½ hours.

Canberra's entire rainfall for December, January and February had been just 97 millimetres up until Wednesday, with the recent deluge more than doubling it. It also almost met Canberra's average rainfall for February of 85 millimetres.

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said it was the most intense storm in the territory in at least three years. Conflicting weather patterns around the ACT had made Canberra the eye of a perfect storm. ''We've had very moist, warm air coming down from the north and that's met with a mass of colder, drier air from the south,'' he said. ''[Canberra] was about in the ideal position today for the biggest contrast in air masses.''

The forecast for the days ahead:

  • Thursday: 10C, 23C. Mostly sunny.
  • Friday: 6C, 25C. Partly cloudy, the chance of showers.
  • Saturday: 8C, 27C. Mostly sunny, light winds.
  • Sunday: 9C, 27C. Mostly sunny.

Residents can reach the ACTSES on 132-500.

Canberrans took to Twitter to share pictures of sheets of water buffeting the city and the dark menacing clouds gathering overhead. Here's a look at some of the best:

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