Extreme spring weather event again

What’s happening with our spring weather??? Hailstorms are normally seen in the tropical and sub-tropical zones of Australia, not in Adelaide in the temperate south. Is this a taste of the predictions for more frequent extreme weather events as a result of increasing temperatures and climate change?

In a sudden storm late afternoon on 11 November 2016, hailstones the size of golf balls lashed suburban Adelaide and other regions of South Australia. The hail stripped leaves off our grapevine, knocked most of the green immature fruit off the peach tree,  and covered the street and driveway with large numbers of small twigs from the river red gum in the street, along with large quantities of ripe buds and fresh flowers.

Our ‘sun-tough’ alsynite polycarbonate clear roofing sheets on the carport and back patio proved not to be hail-tough, as the huge hailstones punched numerous holes straight through the sheets. The sound of hailstones hitting the roof was like rocks pounding down. When I tried to take photos from the front door, hailstones bounced up to 10 m down the hallway! Our car which was parked in the street is now covered in dents on the bonnet and roof — it was just too dangerous to go out to drive it under cover.

Much worse, the trail of damage continued across the state and through the Riverland irrigation district, wiping out fruit crops nearly ready to be picked, and knocking flowers off grapevines. Growers had just signed a deal to sell nectarines to China, but the crop was destroyed in only 10 minutes, leaving growers with no incomes, serious flow-on effects for support industries and fewer jobs for fruit-pickers.

storm-cell-alexandrina-plains-20161111-sm

Storm cell moving east across Alexandrina plains near Strathalbyn, south-east of Adelaide, 11 November 2016

In September this year, market gardeners along the Gawler River north of Adelaide were wiped out by major flooding. These two natural disasters will have major impacts on supplies of fruit and vegetables in coming months, leading up to Christmas.

This was much worse than the hailstorm last year. In September 2015, hail stones the size of marbles stripped our garden, knocking off nearly all the flowers on the orange tree and shredding its leaves, wiping out our crop of oranges in June 2016. What can we expect in spring 2017??

aftermath of hailstorm

Hailstorm in September 2015

 

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About redgumgirl

Dr Anne Jensen is an environmental consultant with a passionate interest in sustainable management of our natural resources, particularly the River Murray and wetland environments. She is particularly interested in using photographs and stories to explain issues around water and protecting natural ecosystems in terms that are understood by the wider community, so that we can manage our environment sustainably for our common future.
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