Sydney’s day of ice

It doesn't snow in Sydney to speak of, but Australia's biggest city makes up for it with occasional blizzards of hail. New Year's Day 1947 brought one such storm, with hail-stones the size of oranges. A more recent pummelling came on the evening of April 14, 1999 – quite late in the autumn for hail in Sydney. A garden-variety thunderstorm paralleling the New South Wales coast drew little notice from forecasters at first. Abruptly, it moved inland and grew into a monster over Sydney's eastern suburbs.The largest hailstones spanned more than 8cm/3in. Over more than five hours, some 40,000 vehicles and 20,000 structures were damaged by the storm. In parts of Kensington and Eastlakes, every home experienced some type of damage. With a total bill in the region of AU$1.5 billion, the hailfall ranks as Australia's costliest natural disaster.