Hundreds of emergency service personnel worked through the night to restore power, remove damaged trees and secure homes as Canberra counts the cost of the wild hail storm that lashed large parts of the city on Monday.
In the latest twist in Canberra's bizarre summer, about 300 workers from the State Emergency Service, ACT Fire and Rescue, the ACT Rural Fire Service, the Australian Defence Force and Evoenergy responded to a record 1900 calls for help after hail stones, some of these the size of golf balls, pelted the city when an intense storm front passed through after midday.
Wind gusts of up to 116km/h were recorded at Canberra airport, and there were reports of hail stones four to five centimetres in diameter. But despite its ferocity, the cloud burst only dumped about 2.6mm of rain.
The storm arrived from the northwest and most of the damage was concentrated in the Belconnen area, Civic and the inner south.
Emergency Services Agency ACT was inundated by reports of downed power lines, broken windows, fallen trees and damaged roofs across suburbs including Dunlop, Florey, Macgregor, Higgins, Latham and Hawker in the north, and Civic, Griffith, Manuka, Kingston and Narrabundah in the south.
Electricity supplier Evoenergy reported that at the peak of the storm power to 3150 homes and businesses was cut, though by late afternoon that number had been reduced to 1100 customers.
But an ESA spokeswoman warned that some homes and businesses calling for help with fallen trees and other minor property damage could face a wait of "a couple of days" as emergency crews gave priority to those with damaged roofs, unsafe electrical wiring and other urgent tasks.
Despite the storm's severity, ambulance services were called to treat just two people suffering minor head injuries after being caught outside in the hail.
The ESA launched its Specialist Intelligence Gathering Firebird 100 helicopter after the storm passed to conduct a damage assessment.
It identified areas of localised flooding, particularly near Manuka oval, and the agency urged drivers to avoid trying to drive through flood waters. "If it's flooded, forget it," an ESA spokeswoman said.
The damage bill from the storm is expected to mount into the tens of millions of dollars. In addition to damage to homes and offices, cars have had windscreens and rear windows smashed and bonnets, roofs and boots pummeled and dented.
Among those affected was Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Graham Catt, who had his blue BMW wrecked by hail. He said it was "smashed to pieces".
Every panel was damaged as well as front and back windscreens.
Mr Catt said he was worried for tradies who needed their vehicles to make a living and for whom every day off the road meant losing money.
"We are looking at quite a big impact," he said.
Another left to count the cost was Frances Summers, who picked up her new car - the first she had bought in 16 years - less than two hours before the storm struck. The hail broke the rear window and badly dented the body.
Countless people were inspecting their heavily damaged cars in the car park next to the John Gorton Building.
One public servant who didn't want to be named said her Kia Sorrento was a write-off. The sunroof and windscreen were shattered and heavy rain had drenched the inside of the vehicle. The roof had collapsed with the impact of countless hailstones the size of golf and cricket balls. "Every single panel has been damaged," she said.
Several buildings sustained damage including the National Museum of Australia, where a roof near the main entrance was damaged and several ceiling sprung leaks. The museum closed its doors for the remainder of the day.
More fortunate was Mount Majura Vineyard. "We didn't get hit by the hail at all," manager Kate Hibberson said.
"It came to the north of us and it came to the south of us but left us alone. Amazing. We are very happy."
Wildlife around the capital was also hit.
Belinda Hogarth-Boyd, president of Wildcare, said that birds had suffered from concussion in the Queanbeyan Jerrabomberra area.
Her organisation had rescued galahs, rosellas, crested pigeons and cockatoos which had been blown violently to the ground. They had been taken to a veterinary surgery for observation.