Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day Tornadoes, Damaging Hail Near Melbourne, Australia

Severe thunderstorms produced very large hail and several tornadoes in the Victoria region, in and near Melbourne, Australia on Christmas Day.  The storms struck late in the afternoon.  The photo above shows strong rotation within a thunderstorm as it passed near the RAAF Base at Sale (to the East of Melbourne), by mid-evening.

The first sighting of a tornado was reported around 4pm local time near Fiskville, to the West of Melbourne.  The corresponding radar image from the Bureau of Meteorology (below) showed a very pronounced hook echo in association with what we here in the U.S. would call a supercell thunderstorm (inside red circle in the upper left quadrant of the image):

Damage was widespread across the region, both from tornadoes and/or damaging winds:

...and very large hail:

Take a look at the size of this monster hailstone captured (in a near one in a million, mid-air shot) by local resident Alan Beattie:

Indeed, I've seen more damage photos from hail across the region than tornadoes or high winds.  The photo below shows extensive damage to this gentleman's car (courtesy of the Herald Sun):

The hail was so prevalent across parts of the region that it created a white Christmas for some:

While tornadoes and damaging hail may seem rather odd to us here in the U.S. on Christmas day, it is actually Summer "down under" in Australia right now.  A storm of this severity is, however, unusual for Christmas day, even where the season is warmer and more unstable.

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meso said...

Rob White said...

The comment from "meso" has been temporarily removed pending review. If the information that was provided can be confirmed I will post an update.



Rob White said...

For some reason the original comment from 'meso' is not re-posting here. Anyway, he or she stated that a photo that reportedly shows a tornado near Fiskville, Australia on Christmas Day 2011 was actually the photo of a tornado that took place in August of 2010, also in Australia.

I was able to find the following article on the Herald Sun's website that referenced a tornado which took place on 8/10/10 and showed what indeed appears to be the exact same photograph, that time credited to someone named "Brian": Herald Sun Article and Photo

Interestingly enough, it is the same newspaper, the Herald Sun, that published the photo again this weekend and attributed it to the "Fiskville" tornado (in fact, that same photo is still included on their latest web story as I am writing this). So far they have not responded to an e-mail request that I made for clarification.

Since it appears that the "Fiskville" photo was indeed a duplicate of the 8-10-10 tornado photo and does not really depict the events of Christmas Day 2011, I have removed it from my original post.

I appreciate the comment from what I'm assuming was a "local" reader in Australia for pointing that out to me!