A mother has suffered angry welts and bruising after large hailstones hammered her car, smashed her back window and pelted her skin during a supercell storm that ravaged south-east Queensland on Thursday.
A clean up is underway after several devastating storms and tornados left a trail of destruction in southern Queensland, ripping roofs from houses and sheds, thrashing crops and pummelling livestock.
Fiona Simpson, 23, who was driving from Nanango to Kingaroy, in Queensland’s South Burnett region, with her grandmother and baby daughter, has shared the confronting images of her injuries on social media.
Ms Simpson told the ABC she pulled to the side of the road in Coolabunia to wait out the storm, but after the hail smashed the back window, she jumped into the back seat to shield her daughter.
“All this rain starts coming in, and the back window where my daughter was was just open … it’s gone,” she said.
“I jumped over the back seat, over her car seat, holding my body over hers,” she told the broadcaster.
“I looked down and I could see she was screaming but I couldn’t even hear her, that’s how loud it was.
“My entire back, arms and head are badly bruised. I’m just so relieved that my daughter and grandmother are alright.
“It wasn’t until I got in the ambulance that I realised that if I didn’t do that she [her baby] could have been seriously hurt or killed, anything could have happened,” she told the ABC.
The storm has also left a young boy in a critical condition after a large tree fell on him at a property near Collabunya, just outside of the town of Kingaroy, Queensland.
Two four-wheel-drives were needed to lift the tree off the primary-school-aged boy’s body before a rescue helicopter took him to hospital just after midday.
The Queensland Ambulance Service has confirmed the accident occurred close to the highway where Ms Simpson sustained her injuries.
The Bureau of Meteorology reported the South Burnett region and other parts of the south-east copped the brunt of three severe storms, two of them supercell storms with two tornados sighted.
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Chris Joseph, a forecaster at the BoM’s Brisbane office, told The New Daily the storm started developing early in the morning west of Dalby, and increased in intensity through Thursday morning, before reports of storms and tornados about 3pm.
Mr Joseph said hailstones seven centimetres in diameter had been reported in Coolabunia, the same town where Ms Simpson was hammered by tennis ball-sized hailstones.
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Here are some images of the damage caused by the hailstorm in the Kumbia Orchards. . Over the next few days the growers will assess the damage. There is a lot to consider to protect the longevity of the trees & the current state of the crop. . Our hearts go out to the Kumbia growers & all the other farmers throughout Queensland❤! . .
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He said the BoM also received one report of wind gusts of 144 kilometres per hour in Blackwater, in the Central Highlands region, and flash flooding in Mingo Creek, near Bundaberg, where a supercell storm brought 72 millimetres of rain in just 50 minutes.
“They were extremely intense, but slow-moving cells. The typical characteristic is that they have a rotation in the middle of them like a tornado, but it doesn’t touch the ground,” he said.
“Supercells are slow moving and persist for a long time. It’s the most dangerous kind of storm.”
Queensland Dairy Farmers president Brian Tessmann said the storm’s fury at his Coolabunia farm was like nothing he’d ever seen, with winds tearing the roofs from his home and dairy.
“The roof came off and it was bedlam from there, trying to hold doors shut, and water coming through the ceiling, and things flying through the air. It was quite something,” he told the ABC.
“I saw it leaving out the window as it went in a couple of large pieces.”
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklinton said many farmers in her electorate of Nanango suffered enormous losses, having endured similarly devastating storms on Boxing Day last year.
“The human side of this is that people will lose their jobs today because there is no fruit left to pick,” she told AAP.