Reports of ‘mini tornado’ as storms lash state
RESIDENTS have reported seeing a storm cell that looked like a "miniature tornado" tearing through Queensland's Darling Downs region as strong winds and heavy showers wreaked havoc on Boxing Day.
Kingaroy locals described a "large wind tunnel" wreaking havoc, lifting roofs from houses and uprooting trees in the area on Tuesday afternoon.
"Tornado [has] definitely gone through. Hail still in places, houses unroofed and paddocks awash. Trees down everywhere," one woman wrote on Facebook.
Other residents confirmed power lines were down and extensive damage to items in yards including fences, sheds and trampolines being thrown around.
At 11pm there were 150 Energex customers without power, many due to powerlines being down.
Hailstones the size of cricket balls fell on Toowoomba and Oakey, on the Darling Downs, and strong winds ripped roofs off houses near Nanango, in the South Burnett region, as the supercell storm hit.
An 85km/h wind gust was observed at Dalby at 6.30pm, while an 111km/h gust was observed at St George at 2.44pm.
About 60mm of rainfall fell at Torridon (south of Leyburn) in the hour to 6pm, while 49mm of rainfall fell in the 30 minutes to 6pm at Pikedale.
Emergency services were yet to assess the full extent of the damage last night due to the decline in daylight.
Weather forecaster Diana Eadie said the Darling Downs region experienced an environment that was "conducive" to a tornado forming but the bureau were unable to confirm if one had occurred.
"The supercell storm exhibited structures that are conducive to a funnel and could have been a tornado ... but we would need to review any potential video footage," she said.
Ms Eadie said November and December were the peak times for thunderstorms in Queensland but Boxing Day was an "exceptional day".
"There was a lot of storm activity," she said.
Incredible footage and images of the storms were shared on social media, including a dramatic image of lightning striking the Bjelke-Petersen family property at Bethany near Kingaroy.
The photograph was taken by Josh Bjelke-Petersen, grandson of former premier Sir Joh and Lady Flo.
Police had closed the Warrego Highway at Bowenville in both directions due to the weather for part of Tuesday evening. Motorists planning to travel between Toowoomba and Dalby were advised at about 9pm to seek an alternative route or delay their trip. The road had reopened by 10pm.
The Bureau of Meteorology cancelled all severe thunderstorm warnings about 11.05pm Tuesday.
The hot, humid and stormy weather is set to continue, with meteorologists predicting a high chance of a wet New Year's Eve.
Brisbane is expected to reach a top of 33C by Saturday before cooling slightly on Sunday with an expected high of 31C and a 70 per cent chance of showers.
The Sunshine and Gold coasts are expected to reach 30C with a shower or two likely on New Year's Eve.