20 January 2020

Storms, hail, strong winds lash Canberra

| Michael Weaver
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A damaged car in Griffith. Photo: Luke via The Canberra Page.

Large hailstones, storms and strong winds wreaked havoc across the ACT today (20 January), with reports of widespread damage and suburbs blanketed with hail. Many suburbs have also experienced power outages due to fallen powerlines.

There are also reports that people have been sent home from work due to glass damage.

Parliament House lawn covered in hail

Hailstones blanket Parliament House as a storm cell passes over the ACT. Photo: Region Media.

“My partners’ work is at the [John Gorton] building in Barton. [It’s] severely damaged with lots of smashed windows. They’ve all been sent home as it’s unsafe with so much broken glass,” according to a post on social media.

Since midday, the ACT Emergency Services Agency has received 1200 requests for assistance.

The ACT State Emergency Service, ACT Fire and Rescue and ACT Rural Fire Service are working together to respond to hail and roof damage, electrical threats and localised flooding.


ACT Ambulance Service is attending to two people for minor injuries sustained during the storm.

The National Museum of Australia was one of the many places to sustained damage during the hailstorm. The Museum closed its doors to the public for the remainder of Monday afternoon to allow time to assess the storm damage and evaluate whether any collection items have been impacted.

Storm damage included torn external roofing near the main entrance, damaged external shade cloths, roof leaks in corridors, café and galleries and damage to cars in the carpark.

The research glasshouses at the CSIRO at Black Mountain were also smashed by hailstones.

Many parts of the ANU campus were damaged with reports of damaged cars and buildings.

Duty forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology Abrar Shabren said the supercell storms that swept across the ACT were triggered by a trough in the west of NSW combining with unstable atmospheric conditions.

He said the very fast-moving storms produced 80-90km/h winds, with one gust packing 117km/h at about 12:48 pm, and large hailstones between golf ball and tennis ball size.

Rainfall varied across the ACT, with the Airport recording 2mm in an hour but Tuggeranong 8mm and other places 10mm.

Old Parliament House. Photo: Region Media.

Mt Ginini in the catchment area received 13mm, adding to the 38mm which fell overnight.

The forecast for the week is more benign, with only the possibility of “garden variety” storms. “This was quite a significant thunderstorm because it was associated with this trough, and the very moist, unstable conditions,’’ Mr Shabren said.

Residents who require assistance for storm or flood damage are advised to call 132 500.

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