Two major cities, Melbourne and Canberra have been pelted by golf-ball sized hail in separate storms within 24 hours, although the outer suburbs received heavy rainfall.
Hail has broken windows in cars and buildings, and more than 1,500 calls to rescuers have been made in the state of Victoria alone due to extreme weather conditions.
In Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, there have been heavy rains in recent days, which have suppressed large-scale fires and caused flooding. Elsewhere, strong winds created dust clouds that turned day into night
Across south-east Queensland, 20,000 homes and businesses were without power and two train lines were forced out of action during the peak-hour rush as a storm front battered the state.
In the Blue Mountains, a 16-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man were injured by lightning at the Giant Stairway Walking Track in Katoomba, the New South Wales ambulance service said.
The boy was treated for burns to his torso and lightning strike entry and exit wounds to his arms and feet. Both were taken to hospital in a stable condition.
The wet conditions were expected to lead to flash flooding in some areas but the weather bureau said rainfall was unlikely to put out remaining bushfires.
More rain was also forecast for south-east Queensland after massive downpours caused flash flooding in parts of the state at the weekend. Stanthorpe recorded more than 75mm from Friday, just days after the region officially ran out of water.
On Monday, Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrew said recent rains have been “very valuable” to areas affected by the fire. However, he added that in some places storms made difficult firefighters’ work and caused a landslide on the highway.
“We need to stay alert. It’s 20th January – the fire season is far from over,” Andrews told reporters.
Since September, in Australia millions of acres have burned down killing at least 28 people, destroying about 2,000 homes and estimates that more than a billion animals have been killed.
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