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Hobart cleaning up after intense storms, hail and power outages last night

By David Barnott-Clement and staff, Friday December 3, 2021 - 09:01 AEDT
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Several roads were cut off due to flash flooding. - ABC

Hobartians are mopping up following thunderstorms that brought heavy rain and unusually large hail to the Tasmanian capital and parts of the state's south-east last night.

On Thursday night, 15.4 millimetres of rain fell at Hobart in just half an hour, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.

State Emergency Services (SES) assistant director of operations Leon Smith said several roads were cut off due to flash flooding.

"Unfortunately, we did witness people not heeding our advice and entering those floodwaters ? quite dangerous in a lot of instances," he said.

"We saw stormwater of significance, to a point where ? everything had been dislodged out of the stormwater system."

The SES said it responded to about 45 calls for help in just two hours.

Brooke Oakley from the BOM said the state saw "intense storms", "damaging wind gusts" of around 120 kilometres per hour and "large hail", which was "unusual for any time of year".

"The most noteworthy thing about yesterday was the intensity of the rainfall ? how much rain actually few in a short period of time," she said.

"Weather is going to be more settled over the next few days, but we are expecting a cold day tomorrow."

Lyn Southon posted to ABC Hobart's Facebook page: "Worst storm I have ever seen! We ended up with a new water feature ? in our sun room."

Worst hailstorm in decades for fruit growers

Fruit growers in the Huon Valley lost millions of dollars of produce in the storm.

Apple and cherry grower Howard Hansen said a third of his apple crop, worth $1.2 million, was completely wiped out.

"The hailstones have completely split the fruit in half, so none of these will be saleable," he said.

Mr Hansen said the severity of the storm took him by surprise.

"We've been in the Huon Valley for over 75 years and the event we suffered last night is 10 times worse than we've ever seen before," he said.

Mr Hansen also lost cherry netting and protection infrastructure worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wire cables and netting snapped under the weight of the hail, ripping four-metre support posts from the sodden earth.

Mr Hansen's cherry crop avoided serious damage, but the farm must now race to reinstall the netting and protect the ripening crop from birds.

Just down the road, Home Hill Winery also copped the brunt of the hailstorm. Proprietor Terry Bennett said the impact of the storm would be felt well into next season.

"It makes you cry to see all the shoots broken off ? it's not only what damage it's done to this vintage, it's the next vintage too," he said.

"If [the storm] had been another two or three weeks when the fruit had actually set and the berries were forming it would have been devastating."

10,000 lightning strikes lead to power outages

TasNetworks said about 30,000 homes lost power last night, of which around 400 are still without power.

"Most of those are from the lightning strikes that caused quite serve damage to localised transformers that feed up to 50 customers and a lot of single customers as well," Jason King from TasNetworks said.

He said there were around 10,000 lightning strikes last night, which was "unusual".

"Sometimes the lightning can go through the lines and into people's premises and cause internal damages," he said.

"If people smell anything strange in their house, or any black marks around the power outlets, please let our call centre know or our crews to make sure people are safe.

"Even though the sun's out, it can still be dangerous out there given the conditions we had last night."


© ABC 2021

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