Australia: Massive dust storm blankets western New South Wales

Image Kim Goldsmith

The ACT Emergency Services Agency had received more than 1200 calls for help by 3pm after Monday afternoon's 15-minute storm. Huge dust storms engulfed the country's southeast over the weekend, looking like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie.

Golf ball-sized hail is shown at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on January 20, 2020.

A fierce hailstorm has pelted Canberra with stones the size of golf balls inflicting severe damage across the national capital.

According to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, rain had fallen on most fire-ravaged grounds in the state.

While the ongoing bushfire crisis in Australia has dropped out of the headlines a little in recent days, thanks to rainfall and cooler temperatures, parts of the country have faced fresh catastrophe events as significant severe convective storms and very large hail struck a number of major urban areas over the last few days.

The wild weather is the latest twist in Canberra's weird summer after the city was choked with thick bushfire smoke over the past month.

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Authorities are warning rainfall run-off in fire-affected areas of New South Wale may bring flash flooding filled with ash, soil, trees and rocks.

The hail storm - at the height of Australia's summer - was the latest extraordinary weather event to strike the country following devastating wildfires and flash floods.

Properties in western Sydney, Macarthur, the southern highlands and the Illawarra remained without power after 7.30pm as emergency crews planned to work into the evening to make safe and fix damage from the storm.

"Fortunately, I rode my bike today", Hilary Wardhaugh said on Twitter and posted a video of a parking lot in the National Library of Australia where the rear windows of the cars had been smashed by the hail.

Local media reported the dust storm damaged a school.

Strong winds also hit parts of central New South Wales, whipping up huge dust storms which blanketed entire towns. It was especially welcome for these drought-hit cities where it has rained only lightly since 2017. Around 90 fires are still burning across New South Wales and 28 emergency warnings had been issued in Victoria, as per the report. Australia has also been devastated by hundreds of bush fires since September - in which 29 people have lost their lives.

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