Sixty-five CSIRO greenhouses were destroyed by intense hail in Canberra yesterday, likely wrecking years’ worth of research on climate-resistant crops.
ABC reports the CSIRO’s Black Mountain facility was pummelled by hailstones as large as golf balls yesterday afternoon, shattering countless glass panels and leaving vulnerable plants susceptible to the outside world.
CSIRO chief operating officer Judi Zielke told the national broadcaster “we’re really feeling for our scientists” who “have spent years working on some of the projects in there.”
Much of the work focussed on sustainable crops, with the end goal of propagating strains of wheat, barley, cotton, and legumes capable of surviving adverse conditions like last year’s horrific drought.
The Canberra Times reports one researcher rushed to the site to cover their work during the storm. It is not immediately clear if their work was salvaged, but Zielke said “most of those projects will be totally lost.”
The full extent of the damage will be examined today.
Fortunately, nobody was injured at the site.
Reports of 4-5cm hail in Canberra with a severe storm earlier this afternoon. Further storms are possible. Keep up to date with warnings here: https://t.co/WwMKAwqVNM and ensure you are storm ready by following these handy tips: https://t.co/dOCvpT15v5 pic.twitter.com/JnXGVePW2U— Bureau of Meteorology Australian Capital Territory (@BOM_ACT) January 20, 2020
The storm caused a spike in calls to the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA), which reported a stunning 1,900 calls for assistance before the day was over – nearly double the previous record for one storm event.
“It will take a number of days to get through every task,” the ESA said this morning.
“We ask Canberrans to remain patient while they wait for assistance.”
Footage and photos posted on social media shows the extent of the damage, with cars, houses, and even the Royal Botanic Gardens copping a beating.
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"Climate change does not exist". Well my windscreen does to differ. And the rest of the car, which had both side mirrors smashed clean off, windscreen smashed, rego plate smashed off, together with side lights, rear lights and roof racks. The car looks like someone's gone to town with a golf club. The rearview mirror and lights INSIDE the car even fell out and onto the car seat. This thanks to a massive storm pelting my car (and everyone else's) with goofball sized hail stones… Can't drive it back to Sydney. This after driving through bushfires, flash floods, drought stricken areas and now massive hail and thunderstorms In the last 7 days. But listen to the politicians when they dismiss global warming… ???????????? #globalwarming #climatechange #hailstorm #canberra
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We had a huge hailstorm yesterday and this is my car from it. Thankfully the front window was fine so we managed to drive it home, now begins the wait for insurance and whether it will be repaired or written off. There's so many dints and all the rear lights are smashed. The force was so strong that the broken glass from the rear window was on the front seat. It was weird walking through the destruction. After the storm passed it was a beautiful sunny day, but with huge piles of hail on the street. All the footpaths were green from the leaves that had been shredded from the trees. And every car park was filled with destroyed cars. Some of my team couldn't take their cars home – too smashed. When your week starts like this, it can only get better right? ???????? Only good thing to come from yesterday was that last night I had the strongest movements yet from baby boy ♥️ was lying in bed and it felt like my tummy was doing flips ♥️ cannot wait to feel it more and for husband and stepson to be able to feel it external!! #hailstorm #canberrahail #whatamonday #17weekspregnant #ivfjourney #ivfmiracle #ivfbaby #ivfpregnancy #pregnancyafterinfertility #pcos #pcospregnancy #pregnant
The weather has cleared since the maelstrom and the Bureau of Meteorology predicts a moderate chance of showers in the afternoon.
That’s a small comfort to those whose property – and experiments – were damages in the onslaught.