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Claims roll in after multiple hailstorms

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A series of hail events affecting NSW and Queensland have clocked up thousands of mostly vehicle-loss claims and the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) expects an update from members tomorrow on the wider fall-out.

ICA told that by Thursday, 2000 claims had already been reported from three hail events last week: one in the Mackay/Bowen region centred around Bloomsbury and Yalboroo in Queensland, one in Coffs Harbour also affecting Toormina and Sawtell, and one in Mackay City.

Two-thirds were motor claims stemming from Wednesday’s Coffs Harbour event, and since then, the weekend brought more significant damage to Coffs.

Two storms swept through around 6pm on Saturday, bringing wind gusts of 115km an hour and 4cm hail. Local emergency services received more than 1000 jobs, and crews from Newcastle and Queensland were assisting with the clean-up.

The storm also brought down power lines and led to roofs collapsing and hail damaging cars in Thirlmere in the Wollondilly Shire on the south-western outskirts of Sydney, where trees were uprooted, power lines brought down and roofs damaged.

The storms also hit parts of Central Western NSW, including Dunedoo.

Emergency calls included reports of roof damage, broken skylights, tiles and water inundation into properties from gutters full of hail. Water inundation resulted in the closure of at least four schools and damage to four nursing homes, with skylights broken by the hail.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh said the Federal Government had been approached to apply for the region to be subject to a Natural Disaster Declaration to open avenues for special assistance for residents and business owners.

On Friday morning, a tornado hit near Brisbane Airport bringing intense rain and strong winds, causing flight delays. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says 101mm of rain was recorded at the airport in an hour.

On Tuesday, record “grapefruit-sized” hailstones measuring 16cm in diameter hit Yalboroo, north of Mackay, though insurers told that event resulted in very few claims, helped by the event taking place in a fairly remote area.

BOM Senior Meteorologist Dean Narramore says while giant hailstones above 12cm cause severe damage – and social media images showed a number of cars with shattered windshields – widespread destruction is unlikely as most of the hail would be smaller, dotted with only a few “gargantuan-sized” hailstones created by unusual, coinciding conditions.