As a major clean-up operation is under way after a tornado and severe storms, a distressed Aussie mother has revealed the terrifying moment ferocious hail ripped through her car — with her young baby inside.
Bringing hail the size of tennis balls, violent storms caused widespread chaos as they swept across southern Queensland yesterday — tearing roofs from properties and destroying crops on the eve of harvest season.
Young mum, Fiona Simpson was in Kingaroy — northwest of Brisbane — when a devastating tornado hit and left her with horrific injuries.
She was driving with her grandmother and baby at the time, and later posted horrific pictures of bruising all over her body on Facebook.
"I've learnt my lesson, never drive in a hailstorm," she wrote.
She described covering her baby with her body when the windows blew out, leaving her back, arms and head badly bruised.
We parked at the side of the road when the storm got too heavy and the hail blew out our windows," she wrote.
"I covered my infant with my body to stop her from getting badly injured. Please, please be careful in this storm season."
The town of Tansey, west of Gympie, bore the brunt of the tornado that hit on Thursday afternoon, with some buildings there severely damaged.
There are also reports of roofs being ripped from homes west of Maryborough, and council crews have had to work through the night to clear roads blocked by fallen trees.
Some areas were left blanketed in large hail stones, up to the size of tennis balls, making paddocks resemble snow fields.
Residents described the terrifying noise that came with the tornado when it hit Tansey about 3pm.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Adam Blazak told the Courier-Mail the storms had "produced very large hail, roughly tennis ball sized hail and destructive winds.
"We've had reports of a lot of damage to property and obviously tree damage and there was a tornado reported northwest of Murgon at about 3.12pm," Mr Blazak said last night.
He said the bureau was forecasting a gloomy, wet weekend.
"We'll expect to see shower activity increase over the weekend, and it could get a bit windy on the coast as well.
"Generally cooler temperatures, and we'll have a lot more cloud cover around and that should keep the temperatures down as well plus we've got a pretty good southerly change that's moved in over the southern parts of the state today so that should also keep those temperatures down."
Sandra Jaschke told the ABC there is extensive damage at her property, with the winds destroying a large car port, her laundry and a pump house.
"Next door to me is the old abattoir and that whole shed has imploded inward and the whole end of it was taken out as well," she said.
"It's just debris everywhere where we are, we've got a lot of steel because we copped a lot of stuff from next door." Wheat, barley and stone fruit farmers have lost crops, with the damage bill expected to be significant.
Teresa Francis says she's lost fruit crops, with damage to her Kumbia orchard put at $2 million.
"It knocks you down. I've stopped crying but there's worse things that can happen. We are still all OK," she told the broadcaster.
At Coolabunia, east of Kumbia, Queensland Dairy Farmers president Brian Tessmann is also counting the costs of the wild weather, which tore the roof off his home and most of the roof off his dairy.
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell says farmers who were about to hit harvest season have suffered very significant losses, with buildings in his area also damaged, and trees "shredded".
"The hail was simply intense when it fell. It was very very prolific. It simply shredded the ears of wheat and barley that was out there to be harvested," he said.
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington will ask the government to help residents in her electorate of Nanango, saying farmers had suffered a massive setback.
Two women and a baby girl suffered cuts when huge hail stones hit their car, smashing its windows as they were driving on the D'Aguilar Highway between Kingaroy and Nanango.
There are also reports that lightning has killed some cattle.
— with wires