Hail stones usually don't come that big


p2334-hailBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Yesterday’s wild hail storm dumped on the town from cumulo nimbus clouds 30,000 to 40,000 feet tall, creating a rare weather event, says Graeme King of the Bureau of Metereology.
The bigger stones are usually a feature of hail in springtime, not in June, he says. The hail in Ilparpa on June 13 last year had smaller stones – pea to marble sized hail.
The little balls of ice – which don’t show up in the rain gauges – came in company with unusually heavy rain, including 37.6mm between 4pm and 5pm measured at the Plaza in the CBD.
The combination of a low level trough aligning with the MacDonnell Ranges and an amplifying upper lever trough created the conditions for severe thunderstorms to form.
“Additionally, the southerly flow against the ranges created extra uplift and large instability in the atmosphere and fuelled the growth of hail-producing supercells,” says Mr King.
Falls till 9am this morning were: 62mm in the CBD, 52mm at the Big Dipper and 45mm at Wiggly’s, both north of the town in the Todd catchment area.
The airport got just 17mm.
There were no injuries in the storm yesterday but some 30 reports of power lines down, trees uprooted and minor flood damage, according to the police.
p2334-hail-2The Todd River is flowing but there was no flooding, and none is expected, although the causeways are still closed except the Taffy Pick – Casino one, and there are no other traffic diversions in place.
The Stott Terrace and Ross Highway bridges are of course open.
As for the weather system, it’s gone off to the east, and we may get a few sunny patches this afternoon, and a bit of fog in the morning.
PHOTOS: Right, from the police Facebook page yesterday • Top: Just outside the Talapi Gallery in Todd Mall •


  1. The coverage of this story by ABC Alice Springs this morning is a bit perplexing. I heard the interview during which “the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said it had been 20 years since a June thunderstorm like yesterday’s hit Alice Springs.”
    Weather forecaster Angeline Prasad was quoted: “In the last 20 years we haven’t had any severe storms with large hail and flash flooding that has occurred in June in Alice Springs.”
    I immediately checked this claim as I was unaware of any such event occurring in June 1996, finding that only 13mm was recorded in Alice Springs for that month and a grand total of just over 23mm for the year to the beginning of July. Equally there was no local media coverage of any notable weather for June 1996, it was perfectly lacklustre. It’s a rather odd claim for the BoM to make.

  2. At home I had 84mm of rain mostly in one hour.
    At my retail nursery I had over 40 tonnes of hail fall within the nursery.
    Caught in the hail netting it is up to one metre deep and still there Saturday evening.
    Haven’t seen hail like this since the 70s.

  3. It’s interesting to note Graeme King’s observation about the scale of yesterday’s storm, where he commented: “The bigger stones are usually a feature of hail in springtime, not in June.”
    Meanwhile, also yesterday in southern California where wildfires have broken out amid a searing heatwave across the south-western USA.
    I find this comment by Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the Cal-Fire firefighting agency: “We’re here at the beginning of June and we’re seeing very active fires very similar to behaviour that we would typically see in the fall.”

  4. This storm was visible from over 130 km away when I was driving from Mt Sonder to Alice Springs at 4pm and appeared very isolated from that distance.

  5. I’m driving around Alice, seeing the destruction this storm has done. It was obvious that the infrastructure around is poorly built.
    A lot of buildings have water damage. I saw a poor Wilson security guard up to his ankles in water, trying unblock a grate to the storm water drain, to try and alleviate the build-up of water from entering CBA, LJ Hooker and Westpac.
    I also saw one poor fellow trip head over hill on the raised lip in the concrete.
    There seems to be a lot of water in the catchment area, which means that the roads have been built lower than the footpath.
    Heading out to the Sadadeen area, it became very foggy and almost eerie. This storm certainly tested the town.
    I congratulate the emergency services and the fire brigade for their continued hard work in attending to callouts.

  6. I see this storm, from which we escaped with only minor damage, as a local manifestation of the global phenomenon of climate change.
    From various reports, we learn that 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have been since 2000, that an estimated 22% of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef have died, and that May was the 13th month in a row to break temperature records.
    Bob Ward, policy director at the London School of Economics’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, suggests that the impacts we’re beginning to see are just the start, and that we don’t really know what the consequences will be. He then makes the understatement of the year by predicting: “There are likely to be plenty of surprises, some of which will be nasty.”

  7. Alex: Just thought I mention, local Aboriginal painter Nelson Panaka always said that the weather for Alice Area comes in a ten year cycle.
    If you check the records back in 1969 you will find Alice Suffered a big hail storm just like the one that just hit. I remember Anzac hill and Todd Street being covered with hail the size golf balls.

  8. @ Albert Diano (Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:59 am): Thanks for your comment, Albert, I agree with the observation of 10 year cycles, and mentioned it in my article published early in May about El Nino-influenced flood risks for Alice Springs.
    The decadal cycle of major weather events has been noted by keen observers for many years, especially by legendary Queensland meteorologist Inigo Jones of the late 19th / early 20th centuries who first promoted the idea that sunspot cycles have a direct influence on weather.


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