Sunday, April 18, 2010

The great hail storm

March 22nd was replete with storm warnings, so I stayed home just in case the roof of the crappy rental parted company from the walls during the predicted severe wind gusts. Well - we only copped heavy rain and minor back patio flooding. All of this was a welcome change to the months of drought which Perth had endured that summer.

But the western suburbs of Perth copped a rather more severe beating from The Great Hail Storm, with golf-ball units of hail which managed to smash windows and dent cars, the worst damage being recorded in a line between Osbourne Park to Karrakatta.

The most obvious damage has been to the trees. Extensive stands of trees in Kings Park have been stripped of their leaves - particularly the sheoaks ( Allocasuarina fraseriana), which I can only assume is because they have brittle branchlets and cladodes. The place really looks like it has been whipped around by a giant whipper-snipper. The impact marks of the hail on the burnt trunks of marri (Corymbia calophylla)  illustrate the size of the hail stones and force at which these slammed into the trees.
Unfortunately, over 40 endangered Carnabys cockatoos were killed by the storm, as they remain together in tight flocks and use Kings Park for shelter. The birds that were saved by vets, were released two weeks later back to their shattered homes. This is quite a blow to the species, which is declining overall.

Being next to Kings Park, the University of Western Australia was hit hard by the hailstorm, with flooded libraries and rare stained glass windows destroyed,  and obviously the glasshouses at the botany department also copped a fair beating. Having spent some time in my dark past working in these houses, I went to have a look to see how they had fared. Every single pane of glass was shattered, and many research projects, some of which had several years of progress, were destroyed that night, including that of postgraduate students.

So - something to keep an eye on this winter in Kings Park... recovery after the Great Hail Storm of March 2010.


  1. The extent of damage in Kings Park shows up really well on the nearmap airphotos too, they did a run just after the storm.

  2. Good spotting mb. I've been back but have yet to photograph what happened this spring-summer. Everything responded to the defoliation as they would a fire. The balga flowered heavily along Railway Pde, and the sheoaks, jarrah and marri have all epicormically sprouted shoots and put out a good flush of leaves.

    Of course - this recovery is all ruined when some yob lights yet another a fire in Kings Park ..