Australia Weather News

The small town of Tansey, west of Gympie in south-east Queensland, is cleaning up after it was hit by a tornado as thunderstorm cells moved across the south-east of the state on Thursday afternoon.

Widespread storms, destructive winds and large hail hit areas across the South Burnett to the Sunshine Coast, but it was reports of a developing tornado moving north-east, towards the ranges between Biggenden and Tiaro, which had people concerned.

The bureau reported the tornado hit Tansey, north-west of Murgon, shortly after 3:00pm.

Sandra Jaschke said her property at Tansey was hit hard, causing extensive damage.

"It has taken out a 12-by-nine-metre carport, just crumpled it," she said.

"It's taken away our laundry — there's two ends to the laundry, it's taken all of that.

"It's taken the pumphouse. We've got minor flooding in the house because it has been coming up through the eves.

"Vehicles have been smashed in by debris because there's a lot of debris, there's a lot of tin.

"Next door to me is the old abattoir and that whole shed has imploded inwards and the whole end of it was taken out as well.

"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.

"Most people don't take much notice of Tansey but it's pretty flattened at the present minute."

The warning was cancelled for south-east Queensland and South Burnett about 6:16pm, but the bureau issued a new warning at 7:22pm, as another dangerous storm moved across Gin Gin and then passed over Bundaberg after 8:00pm.

Tennis ball-sized hail smashes town, three people hospitalised

There were reports of hail the size of tennis balls in the southern inland town of Kumbia and three people were earlier taken to hospital when large hail smashed through their car windscreen.

The Queensland Ambulance Service said all three were in the same car, driving along the D'Aguilar Highway at Coolabunia, and were taken to hospital.

At one point, nearly 6,000 properties lost power at Kingaroy.

Coolabunia dairy farmer Damien Tessman got caught as the storm hit, while trying to move 160 head of cattle to a safe place.

"Usain Bolt's got nothing on a farmer that all of a sudden can see a storm like that coming through, when I'm stuck out in the paddock with thousands of dollars worth of fertiliser. So we moved like the clappers," he said.

"It was amazing how quickly it moved. It would be honestly like a cyclone, there's not a leaf left on a tree … the poor old cockatoo has been blown out of his tree," he said.

He said there was damage to roofs and silos in the area.

"My uncle, he's lost the top of his house. Silos have blown in and all sorts of things. It really is quite a lot of damage, definitely nothing [I've] seen before," he said.

Another Coolabunia farmer, Ryan McKinnon, copped damage to his beloved 1955 Ford Thunderbird when the storm tore apart his shed.

Orchard pounded by storms, $1.5m worth of crop lost

Teresa Francis was getting ready to pick peaches and nectarines at her stone fruit orchard in Kumbia in the South Burnett when the storms hit.

Ms Francis said she had lost all but 5 per cent of her crop, which would cost her about $1.5 million.

"We've gone from picking fruit this morning that was perfect, it was shaping up to be an unreal season, to probably 20 minutes at about lunchtime, and it's all gone," Ms Francis said.

"We have fruit that's not under hail netting and that's been wiped out," she said.

"It's heartbreaking, for 20 minutes for your livelihood to be gone. I feel sorry for a lot of our workers, they're travelling and their caravans have been damaged, some of our workers live locally, their houses have had windows smashed."

Brianna Reynolds, who works at the petrol station in Kumbia, said the storm passed in less than 10 minutes.

"It ripped through pretty quick but it was heavy. Out in the main street it looked [like it was] about six o'clock in the afternoon — it was dark and then it just hit," she said.

"Very loud, couldn't hear yourself think."

Ms Reynolds said the glass louvres in the local school building would have been taken out by the storm.

"Just across the road from the service station here, there's a tree fallen over in someone's yard, by the roots, [it's] been ripped out," she said.

"Our bosses ... their weatherboard and that of their houses has all been ripped out, louvres broken and all that sort of stuff."

Tornadoes not so uncommon in Australia

The BOM said tornadoes were more common across Australia than many people thought.

According to a post on the subject on the BOM's website, dozens of tornadoes are sighted across the nation each year.

Most were associated with dangerous type of thunderstorm known as a supercell.

ABC