Camperdown Chronicle
Hail ‘superstorm’ crashes through Derrinallum

WINDOWS were smashed, trees stripped of leaves and houses were inundated with water during a “freak” hail storm which bombarded Derrinallum on Sunday evening.

Lismore SES unit controller Colin Pickering said the “superstorm” occurred at about 7.20pm, with hailstones the size of marbles pelting the town.

“The force of the wind and hailstones was so great that it’s shredded a lot of the elms in the main street,” he said.

“We were called out to attend 14 houses, but there were a heap more that were damaged, with the owners mopping up themselves.

“The biggest problem seemed to be that the hailstones clogged up people’s gutterings, which then caused interior floodings, especially on houses that had centre valleys.

“There were a lot of smashed windows around the town, a verandah was smashed and the roof of a pergola completely collapsed under the weight.”

Mr Pickering said a supermarket and a local cafe both experienced water inundation and were in the process of cleaning up.

“There would have been three to four inches of sludge over the roads that was a mixture of ice from the hail and all the leaves,” he said.

“It was incredible to see.”

Despite the icy sludge on the town’s roads and several fallen trees, no car accidents were reported.

Mr Pickering said the Lismore SES had two units working through until about midnight to secure households.

“It was a very isolated storm.  I live about eight kilometres west of Derrinallum and we got about two drops of rain, Lismore and Mingay didn’t get the hail, but got between 30mm and 40mm of rain and Berrybank only got one or two millimetres,” he said.

Mount Elephant Hotel Motel proprietor Glenn Parkin said the hail storm lasted for about 45 minutes.

“It started with a big clap of thunder and then hail the size of marbles were hitting the ground,” he said.

“It was unrelenting, it just didn’t let up.

“It sounded like there were 100 people jumping on our roof.  We couldn’t hear each other talk.

“The ice at the front door ended up being about 18 inches deep and there’s still about six inches sitting there today (Monday morning).”

Mr Parkin said most trees in the town had been stripped of their leaves, with several trees completely uprooted.

“The wind was incredibly powerful,” he said.

“If you tried to open the door, the wind just pushed it back on you.

“One of the gutters on the hotel has been completely ripped off, all the plants have been stripped and there is water all over the place – we’re still cleaning up now.”

Lismore Fire Brigade member and local photographer Sally Patterson said the day was full of extremes.

“We’d spent the earlier part of the day burning a fire break along the Hamilton Highway almost through until Darlington,” she said.

“Then, as the lightning came through, we were called to Foxhow and Lower Darlington Road for fire incidents.

“They were quickly extinguished when the rain came.

“We also were called to a house on Main Street in Derrinallum that was smouldering because the moisture got in.”

Mrs Patterson said driving into Derrinallum was “astonishing”.

“It was like a winter wonderland,” she said.