Disaster group activated after freak hail storm
UPDATE: Western Downs Local Disaster Management Group met this morning to monitor the situation in Chinchilla following yesterday's severe storm event.
Western Downs Regional Council's Chinchilla customer service centre sustained major damage from the storm and will remain closed until repairs are made.
From Monday the customer service centre will be temporarily relocated to the Chinchilla White Gums Art Gallery and the full range of Council services will be available from that site until further notice.
Customers can also still access Council services by calling 1300 268 624..
Council works crews and the SES are continuing clean-up efforts and no road closures are in place.
Residents and visitors to Chinchilla are reminded to be mindful of the wet weather and to drive to the conditions.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have deployed a Rapid Damage Assessment Team that are due to arrive in Chinchilla by mid-morning.
For storm and flood assistance, please call SES on 132 500.
The LDMG are scheduled to meet at 3pm today to continue monitoring the situation.
8.30AM: The damage bill from a freak hailstorm that hit Chinchilla yesterday will run into the millions of dollars.
Major insurer RACQ has already received 20 insurance claims from Chinchilla residents as the town starts to clean up from yesterday's supercell event.
As authorities warn the damage bill could run into millions of dollars, the major clean-up is under way.
RACQ said it had received 20 claims already, mostly relating to hail damage on vehicles.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services from Toowoomba are this morning headed to Chinchilla to assist local crews clean up.
After damage to the Chinchilla Hospital, Queensland Ambulance transported six patients to Dalby Hospital as a precaution.
Ergon Energy has restored power to most of the town that was blacked out as the storm passed over, but spokesman Rod Rehbein said there were fewer than 100 homes left in the dark.
WEDNESDAY 6:33 PM A WARNING for very dangerous storms headed for Dalby and the South Burnett has been cancelled.
The Bureau of Meteorology says the immediate threat of severe thunderstorms has passed.
A more general severe thunderstorm warning still exists for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt and parts of the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett and Maranoa and Warrego districts.
UPDATE 5PM: An intense storm that tore through Chinchilla dumped a thick blanket of hail over the town and prompted more than 100 calls for assistance from residents.
The freak weather event hit the Western Downs town shortly before 4pm.
Some residents reported the hail storm, which produced stones the size of golf balls, lasted for more than 20 minutes.
Destructive winds and heavy rains lashed the region before the supercell system tracked north-east towards the South Burnett region.
Windows were smashed at the Chinchilla Hospital with the local SES group activated to assist residents.
A patio roof on Chinchilla watermelon farmer Terry O'Leary's property was destroyed, leaving gaping holes.
He said despite the 30 minute warning from the Bureau of Meteorology, the ferocity of the storm was surprising.
"You could see it coming but didn't think it was going to be this bad," he said.
Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown said the Local Disaster Management Group had been convened late yesterday afternoon with SES crews from Dalby and Miles brought in to assist residents.
Cr Brown said the State Government had been notified of the disaster.
"There are damages to the cultural centre, the Western Downs customer service centre, the library, cinema and neighbourhood centre," he said.
"More than 90 calls had been logged for assistance within an hour of the storm passing, he said.
"We're encouraging people to contact the SES if they need help," he said.
"It's a savage storm but we've been advertising it for days so we had fair warning."
He said an area of particular concern were houses in the storm's path which were still under repair after a savage storm in March this year.
Meanwhile, emergency services are urging residents in parts of the Dalby and South Burnett Council areas, including Boondooma and Lake Boondooma, to prepare for thunderstorm activity in the coming hour.
The Bureau of Meteorology has advised a very dangerous thunderstorm has been detected on the radar.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services is urging residents who are currently in and around the warning areas to take precautionary measures and prepare for the storm.
Residents should bring loose outdoor items indoors and secure items, which can't be moved, such as swing sets and trampolines. They should also move their car undercover and away from trees and when the storm approaches seek shelter indoors and never under trees.
Always be aware of fallen trees and powerlines. For storm and flood emergency assistance contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500 and in a life-threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000).
SES volunteers respond to hundreds of requests during peak storm activity and ask that those requiring assistance be patient.
Most SES tasks are not quick jobs, and often extensive work and time is required to attend to storm damage. The public is asked to remember that the SES is made up of volunteers dedicated to helping others and will always put the safety of its volunteers first during adverse weather conditions.
For updated information monitor the BoM website at www.bom.gov.au and for further information on how to prepare visit www.getready.qld.gov.au.
3:15 PM: Thunderstorms are moving east across the Darling Downs with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing a new severe storm warning.
Storms are now impacting on the western parts of the Darling Downs along with the Maranoa and Warrego districts.
A severe hailstorm hit Chinchilla about 3.40pm.
The storm is expected to continue in a north-easterly direction with destructive winds and very large hailstones.
The bureau warned at 2.44pm that severe thunderstorms producing damaging winds and large hailstones are likely to affect locations such as Roma, Goondiwindi, Tara, Chinchilla and Miles.
Weather conditions across Toowoomba this afternoon are ripe for a supercell event that devastated the Somerset region yesterday.
Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Jess Carey said conditions over the Garden City could potentially bring strong winds, hail and a supercell weather event.
"Today is pretty right for the picking in terms of storms," he said.
"We've had reports of quite a few storm chasers where we get a lot of information from the ground that have come to the Darling Downs just for the storm.
"It is pretty prime conditions."
He said there were some storms on the bureau's radar at present, with forecaster closely monitoring the situation.
EARLIER: A severe weather warning has been issued fro the Maranoa and Warrego districts.
The Bureau of Meteorology warns that severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and large hailstones over the next several hours.
Locations which may be affected include Roma, Mitchell, Springsure, Injune, Bogantungan, Mantuan Downs, Surat, Lorne and Carnarvon National Park.
The next warning is due to be issued at 4.30pm.