Andrew Kell, from Brisbane, prepares his kite for windsurfing on the Richmond River at Ballina on a weekend that had weather conditions to confuse almost everyone.
Andrew Kell, from Brisbane, prepares his kite for windsurfing on the Richmond River at Ballina on a weekend that had weather conditions to confuse almost everyone. BRENDEN ALLEN

Everything from hailstorms to clear sunny days

IT HAS been a topsy-turvy summer season, with weather conditions changing daily.

Taking advantage of the weekend’s blustery conditions was Brisbane’s Andrew Kell, who tried out his windsurfer in the river at Ballina on Saturday.

Mr Kell said he had already tried windsurfing at Shaws Bay that morning, but the conditions were ‘too crazy’.

So he moved to the river, where he hoped conditions would be more protected.

The summer season has dished up everything from clear sunny days, with the sea still and crystal clear, to blustery, overcast days, and even downright frightening and ferocious hail and wind storms.
You would be forgiven for having a little post traumatic stress at this time of year when each day you drive the car out of the garage and wonder if it will come back pock-marked by hail.

At 4pm last Tuesday, The Northern Star staff, me included, scrambled from the newsroom to rescue our cars.

Thank heavens for the monstrous shed out the back which once housed the paper stock for the printing press, now in Ballina.

We stood watching in shocked bewilderment at the golf ball-sized hail smashing into the bitumen outside.

I don’t think I was the only one wondering how many more surprise hail attacks we need to endure this season.

If you’re wondering whether it’s down to climate change, Bureau of Meteorology statistics reveal the situation has not changed much in 10 years.

On December 1, 1998, Ellangowan was hit with 4cm hailstones, with 30mm rain falling in just 20 minutes.

Two and half weeks later Lennox Head, Ballina and Evans Head were hit with 8cm hailstones and wind gusting to 122km/h.

Six homes had their roofs blown off and many others were damaged by the high winds.
Then at the end of January in 1999, Ellangowan was again hit by a hailstorm, with winds gusting to 100km/h uprooting trees.

It’s been a similar story this season.

On Christmas Eve, the region’s first serious storm hit, demolishing houses at Collins Creek, north of Kyogle.

Then on Thursday night another fierce storm smashed trees and damaged houses and cars, mainly around Alstonville, Dunoon, Rosebank, Mullumbimby, Ewingsdale, Evans Head and Skennars Head.

The hottest December day on record this year in Lismore was just six days before Christmas, when temperatures topped out at 35.4 degrees Celsius.

The most humid day was December 28, when relative humidity was 100 per cent.

The coolest morning so far was December 22 when at 9am the temperature was a very pleasant 19.5 degrees Celsius in Lismore.

But for the first half of this week we can breathe a little easier with conditions starting to ease. Temperatures will top out at 31 degrees Celsius.

Moderate winds are expected to come from the north-east, then swing around to the south-east later in the week.


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