INCOMING! Destructive storm 'likely' after Qld lashed
SOUTHEAST Queenslanders could face a second round of ferocious storms after severe cells lashed the region on Sunday night, dumping huge hail and wreaking havoc on the power network.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a forecast warning people in southeast Queensland that damaging to destructive winds and large hail are likely for Brisbane today.
Repair crews are scrambling to restore power to about 50,000 properties that remain without power after destructive winds, gusting beyond 100km/h in some places, downed hundreds of powerlines across the region.
Workers have managed to get power back on for 78,000 other properties, but Energex is warning residents in storm-affected suburbs to be wary and assume any fallen lines are live and stay away.
Energex reported more than 265,000 lightning strikes were recorded across the southeast.
More than 50,000 homes across the southeast remain without power this morning, with Brisbane city and Logan the worst affected, and homeowners in some of the worst-affected areas have been told by Energex that they will remain without power until Tuesday.
Logan City, south of Brisbane, still has more than 39,000 properties without electricity, Brisbane almost 7000, and Redland City about 2300. Authorities say wild winds did most of the damage, with gusts of 109km/h recorded at Redcliffe, 107km/h in the Redlands district, and 90km/h across Brisbane.
The worst damage is in Kingston, Jimboomba, Crestmead, North Maclean and Beenleigh, with residents urged to be patient with long delays expected.
Crestmead State School, Eagleby South State School and Stuartholme School in Toowong have announced they will be closed as a result of damage caused by the storm.
Crestmead State School principal Michael Ward said he made the decision to close the school after deeming the area unsafe.
"We've got fallen tree branches over most of the school and there are a lot of trees with dangling branches that are very unsafe," he said.
"There's some damaged electricity lines and a little bit of water damage too."
Staff waited on the footpath outside the school to let parents know of the decision this morning.
Mr Ward said they tried to notify parents via text message, but many failed to receive it due to reception issues.
He said more than 100 parents had come through and were turned away.
"The kids are excited (that there's no school) but the parents understand why the decision was made," Mr Ward said.
Energex crews have been rushed in from Bundaberg, Maryborough and Toowoomba to relieve local crews who have been working through the night.
An Energex spokesman said much of the damage has been caused by tree branches falling on overhead powerlines.
He said crews will be prepared for more storms forecast this afternoon.
Meanwhile the Brisbane SES is working to clear a backlog of storm-related jobs from overnight. A spokeswoman said crews were busy with 95 call-outs in the Brisbane area overnight. Many involved branches falling on roofs, with much of the damage only discovered this morning.
"Often we find the winds overnight with damage the trees but they get wedged, so it's not until the storm is over that they get loosened and fall," the spokeswoman said.
Logan was the worst affected area, and across the region 113,000 homes lost power.
More than 100 people across the southeast have already lodged damage claims to the RACQ following last night's thunderstorm, with numbers expected to rise.
RACQ spokeswoman Kirsty Clinton said while the storm was brief it was powerful, causing damage to both vehicles and homes.
"So far, the majority of claims we've received are from the Forest Lake and Browns Plains region and also around Redland Bay," she said.
"As people wake up this morning and get a chance to look over their homes in the daylight, we expect more claims to be lodged."
Ms Clinton said motorists should be wary when driving today.
"Motorists should be wary of fallen trees, powerlines and debris on the roads," she said
Three floors of the Q1 were evacuated after what was thought to be smoke started pouring from the top of the building just before 7pm last night.
Fire crews cleared floors 75 to 77 for around 20 minutes, and found steam coming from the high-rise, originating from a lightning strike.
The wild weather, after a day of baking heat across much of Queensland, generated more than 265,000 lightning strikes.
And forecasters say almost identical conditions on Monday could generate more gusty thunderstorms cross the southeast from Monday afternoon, including in Brisbane and on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
A Queensland Fire and Emergency spokeswoman said about 100 callouts for SES were made across southeast Queensland.
"The damages reported were trees down, property damage and power lines," she said.
"Tomorrow morning when people wake up and check the damage outside we will expect more calls."
The blackout was similar in scale to when the storm system generated by Cyclone Debbie hit Brisbane last year.
Energex spokesman Tyrone Marega said: "You can never tell how severe a storm is going to be before it hits. We did expect damages due to the velocity of the storm."
Hail the size of cricket balls was reported near Boonah and social media was flooded with pictures of lightning.
Hundreds of concert-goers waiting to see US band Paramore were forced to evacuate Riverstage in the Brisbane CBD due to concerns over lightning.
The concert resumed about an hour later.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michelle Berry said the thunderstorms provided a temporary relief from the heat, but temperatures would go straight back up. She said the southeast would be waiting until at least Friday for a drop in temperatures.
"We saw temperatures well and truly above average. Pretty much for any area south of Townsville temperatures were between three and 10 degrees above average," Ms Berry said.
The hottest recorded temperature yesterday was 44.9C, recorded at Ballera, a gas field near Thargomindah in the south west Queensland.
EARLIER: SEVERE thunderstorms have wreaked havoc across southeast Queensland, with large hailstones the size of cricket balls and damaging winds across the region.
While the worst of the storms has passed, more than 100,000 homes are without power according to Energex.
Concertgoers waiting to see US band Paramore were left drenched at Riverstage in Brisbane's CBD after lightning forced an evacuation.
One fan, Emily Homer said everyone had been kicked out of the venue to seek shelter due to the severe thunderstorm warning.
"The concert hadn't actually started, there was still a huge line of people waiting to get through the gates," she said.
"The support act was meant to start at 6:30.
"We were evacuated to anywhere undercover basically, most went to the nearest undercover park, and the rest of us hid under building awnings or trees."
Now that the storm has passed, concertgoers are on their way back into the venue.
"People are still in good spirits, there's been groups singing," Ms Homer said.
"General complaints of course, but overall it's still all good."
Wind gusts of 90km/hr or more were observed at Redcliffe, Inner Beacon, Redlands, Amberley and Archerfield.
Hail the size of golf and cricket balls was reported near Boonah.
As of 8.28pm, BOM advises that all Queensland sever thunderstorm warnings have been cancelled.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advises that people should:
* Beware of fallen trees and powerlines.
* Never drive, walk or ride through flood waters. If it's flooded, forget it.
* For emergency assistance contact the SES on 132 500.