Several cities and suburbs in southwest Brisbane are now being considered as hailstorm hotspots in parts of southeast Queensland.
Ipswich, Springfield, Esk, Boonah, Jimboomba and Beaudesert received the not-so-good titles as Capalaba and Chermside were considered the best places with no storms.
“The frequency of hailstorms drop off in Brisbane’s northern and south-eastern suburbs,” said Dr Joshua Soderholm of the University of Queensland‘s Climate Research Group.
Dr Soderholm has designed a hailstorm map that features radar data gathered for the past 19 years and information collected during a period of two years spent in the field using gadgets like quadcopters and weather balloons to get near storms.
In his findings, Dr Soderholm notes that the southeast storms were common in two areas.
One of these was the Boonah-Beaudesert region which extends along the southwest corridor and the other was near ESK as storms extended to the Sunshine Coast.
In addition, the research revealed that hailstorms were commonly experienced in Brisbane during periods when the sea breezes and the cool south easterly shift went through the region.
“The city of Brisbane ‘urban heat island’ accelerates the sea breeze, leading to increased moisture over the city, providing a hot and humid environment that is favourable for feeding storms,” Dr Soderholm stated.
“The most optimal storm conditions for Brisbane are also associated with a deep layer of warm, moist air from agriculture out west moving eastwards over the coast.”
Dr Soderholm who also works with the insurance sector said that the most significant hailstorms in the capital were the “severe multi-cells” which are more prevalent in the southeast region than the supercells.
“Different cells dissipate as new cells form to continue the life of the thunderstorm,” he added.
The thunderstorm activity frequently occurring over the western southeast Queensland has always been associated with the sea breeze activity, delivering added moisture and lift.
“The sea breezes combine with hot air from western agricultural regions in layers, much like the layers of a cake, leading to a very favourable atmosphere for storms over the coast,” Dr Soderholm concluded.
Generally, the northern NSW and southeast parts of Queensland are the main hail hotspots in Australia though the southern areas do get pelted too.
Powerful Hailstorms and Hailstorm Hotspots
Dr Soderholm explained that parts of the southeast Queensland as well as the northern New South Wales recorded one or two powerful hailstorms in each region annually but in the Canberra the frequency was something like once in every 5 years.
Canberra and Melbourne have often been pelted by golf ball sized hail in different storms with the wild weather always prompting thousands of emergency calls seeking help across various Australian states.
Hailstorms are a natural phenomenon that continues to wreak havoc in most parts of Australia. Damage caused by hailstorms causes a lot of distress to households and businesses alike as it directly impacts their properties and financial status.
Generally, storms are unpredictable and can happen anywhere and anytime of the year but in Australia, they are common in the months of September and March. The severe storms are sometimes accompanied by big hailstones that cause significant damage to properties and also injure people and animals.
To learn more about hailstorms in Australia and what to do when they happen click here