The Boonah District has had a number of droughts, floods, and bad storms. This is about the hail storm that hit Boonah on the 14th of November 1940. Below is an extract from the book "The Fassifern Story" of one resident's account of that afternoon.
"Soon after 1 p.m.as the storm approached, it became greener (a sure sign of hail) until it was an incredibly pretty green. When the storm struck, daylight seemed to vanish. It was almost dark - darker than a moonlight night - as though the swirling mass of cloud was down to ground level. Added to this, the noise of hail, wind and frequent fork lightning strikes, this was an experience never to be forgotten." (Pfeffer. 1)
I have had this article from The Queensland Times newspaper (see below) in my family files for a number of years. Mr. Gus Kirchner is my grandfather and the report talks about the damage that occurred on the Kirchner farm. The article is dated 22 November, eight days after the storm and the damage included a loss of 20 acres of maize, horses and cows washed away and injured. One thing I could never understand was how after eight days, there was still so much ice in the dams? November in Australia is late spring so the temperature should have been quite warm. What sort of storm occurred? I decided to look further into this to try to find out.
"ICE FEET DEEP." Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954) 23 November 1940: 6 (DAILY.). Web. 4 Apr 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114219652
The storm started to develop in the afternoon on Thursday the 14th of November 1940 between 1 and 2 o'clock. It intensified behind Mt. Edwards and moved east through Charlwood, over Mt. French and across Boonah and then on to Milford. Other areas had the rain and wind but did not get any hail. Here is a description of the storm and straight after.
"After the passage of the storm, a mantle of Ice covered the landscape and hail feet deep lay in places in the streets. A dense fog that obscured visibility for beyond 20 yds settled over the scene. For about two hours motor traffic proceeded at a snail's pace, with lights burning, owing to the density of the fog. Hailstones bombarded roofs with a deafening roar and within a quarter of an hour over 3 in. of rain had fallen." (2)
My mum was in school at Boonah when the storm hit. She was seven years of age and remembers the almost deafening noise of the hail on the iron roof. When the hail stopped a lot of the students (mainly the boys) shot their hands up asking to go to the toilet. The toilets were outside and further up the hill and so most likely those children just wanted to go outside and have a good look. Mun isn't sure how she got home from school that afternoon but does remember seeing eels and fish being washed over the walls of the dams.
Some of the damage reported in the newspapers the next day include the following: Various homes had their roofs partially blown off, many buildings suffered broken windows from the hail stones, trees were stripped of leaves and gardens destroyed. In the business area of town, the main problem was water damage due to hail filling the parapets and water going through the ceiling and thereby damaging stock. At Messrs. Cossart and Sons' timber mill and case factory, roofs came off and a large quantity of timber and materials were saturated. A safety issue also occurred when debris struck the safety valve on the boiler and employees were battered with hail when the roof went.
I hope this brief account gives some idea of the intensity of this storm. I know that with such devastation and loss it would have taken a long time for the farmers to fully get back to normal. I'm still not sure about the ice lasting for so long but it seems that the debris helped protect the compacted ice from the heat. I'll finish with one last thought. Try to imagine my grandmother's kitchen when all the hens and ducks start to thaw out and recover.
For further reading on the damage from this storm:
EXTENSIVE STORM DAMAGE AT BOONAH. (1940, November 15).Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), , p. 6 (DAILY.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114209670
STORM DAMAGE. (1940, November 19).Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), , p. 4 (DAILY.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114214180
STORM DAMAGE. (1940, November 16).Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), , p. 8 (DAILY.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114211098
(1) Pfeffer, C.K. The Fassifern Story:A History of Boonah Shire and Surroundings to 1989.(Boonah, Qld: Boonah Shire Council, 1991), p.136
(2) EXTENSIVE STORM DAMAGE AT BOONAH. (1940, November 15).Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), , p. 6 (DAILY.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114209670
(3) STORM DAMAGE. (1940, November 16).Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), , p. 8 (DAILY.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114211098
I enjoy researching history and families, it's an all encompassing hobby that takes over a lot of my spare time.