Sunshine Coast shopping centre ceiling collapses as severe storms lash south-east Queensland
A “very dangerous” thunderstorm has lashed large parts of Queensland, dropping five-centimetre hail, generating 70km/h winds and collapsing the ceiling of a Sunshine Coast shopping centre.
Leah Whittaker was shopping with a friend in Kmart Maroochydore just before 6pm when she heard the rain intensify and then the hail start battering the roof of Sunshine Plaza.
An alarm sounded before they heard a “cracking noise” from the ceiling.
“The next thing the whole roof just like caved in, in that one section,” she told 9News.com.au.
“And then it was like the roof boards collapsed.”
Piping, wires, a light dangling down and “what looked like dirt or something” came through the roof before the water started bucketing down and the 22-year-old pulled out her phone to start filming.
“It just kept getting worse and then another collapse happened closer to the front door, which wasn’t as bad but it was like a lot of water gushing out that looked like it was going on the registers,” she said.
Eventually, the shock gave way to a brief moment of genuine fear as Ms Whittaker and her friend, both worried the rest of the ceiling would start to cave in too.
“Everyone just had their hands over their mouths like ‘what the hell is happening?’,” she said.
“It was so loud. The noise was insane.
“It was only raining for maybe a minute, max, and then you heard the hail hit the roof and it was just in little bits and sections.
“Then all of a sudden it just sounded like the roof was getting smashed, like so hectic.
“Me and my friend were standing right next to each other and we were screaming at the top of our lungs just trying to talk to each other it was that loud.”
Hairdresser Kelsey Hill was in Kmart at the same time, closer to the registers at the front of the store.
She saw a little bit of water start leaking from the ceiling and started filming.
“Not even 10 seconds later, the whole thing just a metre away for me just completely caved in,” she told 9News.com.au.
“Honestly, I just I didn’t really know what to do. I was like, there’s just water everywhere.
“The ceilings down. There’s wires everywhere. Like ‘what’s going to happen now?’ Is it gonna start fires?”
Both women said they didn’t see anyone injured and that the store was safely evacuated.
Severe storms had earlier lashed inland areas like Esk and Toogoolawah before moving toward Brisbane where as much as 10-25 millimetres of rain hit within half an hour on Wednesday.
The storms passed out to sea away from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast throughout the night.
Weatherzone meteorologist Joel Pippard told 9News that gusts of 72km/h had been recorded at Wellcamp near Toowoomba.
Golf-ball-sized hail hit in Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and Helidon, west of Brisbane, yesterday.
Further south, storms are forecast for the next few days.
Sydney can expect showers and a late thunderstorm today, with the weather warming up to 22C.
An earlier severe weather warning of heavy rain and flash flooding for the NSW South Coast has now been cancelled.
While Melbourne will remain dry today, rain will hit the city from tomorrow, with minor flood warnings in place for Victoria’s Bemm, Cann and Genoa Rivers, East Gippsland, parts of West Gippsland and the Snowy River
Adelaide is heading for a sunny 17C and will also see showers tomorrow and Friday.
Perth will also see a morning shower today, with a mostly sunny Thursday, before a cloudy weekend.