Severe destructive thunderstorms occur most years around Narrabri (NSW, Australia) during spring and summer. Usually the damage goes mostly unnoticed because built-up areas are so sparse out here. Genuine tornados probably occur somewhere around the area every few years, although few people would realise it.
Some claim that Narrabri's Jan 2005 storm was the most destructive in the towns history, however historical documents do record thunderstorms with comparable levels of destruction. A thunderstorm with extremely destructive winds probably hits any particular place in the area about every 20 years, although this obviously depends on the butterfly population in South America. In some seasons there have been intense storms just a few weeks apart.
The severe thunderstorm list here is obviously extremely incomplete but hopefully still useful. We're keen to hear any additional information you can provide about severe storms, please email us. We're mostly interested in storms with hail larger than golf balls or extreme amounts of hail, wind gusts in excess of 100 km/h (eg substantial trees blown over or buildings damaged) and especially tornado sightings.
Robert McNaught kindly provided us with much of the following historical information. Many records are based on research by the Narrabri Historical Society and the Bureau of Meterology, as referenced below.
|1892 Oct 13||Narrabri||Winds estimated to exceed 160km/h. Substantial brick buildings destroyed and large trees blown over. Accompanied by large hail. |
|1892 Nov 13||Narrabri||Tornado. |
|1900 Dec 03||Narrabri||Many buildings in the main street were damaged. Houses were unroofed and trees uprooted. Lightning even struck the gaol! The storm lasted about 20 minutes. [1,2]|
|1900 Dec 31||Narrabri||Some buildings damaged and destroyed. |
|1902 Jan 07||Narrabri||Tornado . Hail and furious wind with some houses completely levelled. "The storm in all its fury burst upon us, first a rushing wind, the sound of which could be heard for miles, then a hail storm and heavy rain" .|
|1933 Jan (early)||Narrabri.||Intense storm with locomotive shed being destroyed after 52 years standing. |
|1933 Jan (late)||Narrabri.||Hundreds of windows broken. Hail to the size of cricket balls. |
|1944 Feb||Narrabri.||Tornado. "Within minutes trees were uprooted, tank stands blown away and fences were flattened" .|
|1954 Nov||Narrabri.||Intense rain with hail 'to the hubcaps of the cars' |
|1990 Jan||Culgoora||Narrow trail of intense damage (tornado?). Massive damage to trees. Radio telescope antennas were flattened which had been standing for 30 years. Wind so strong the anemometer was blown down and finished up in a nearby paddock. Information contributed by staff at the Australia Telescope Compact Array.|
|1994||Kaputar Rd/Eulah Ck||Very heavy hail, to the size of cricket balls. Flash flooding as the hail melted rapidly. Some photos by Marion Hodgson here, here and here. Greg Nash mailed us these comments: "It was a very odd-looking cloud, (vertical, whispy, greenish colour) but actually not that big. We had 10+cm of hail, much of it golfball size. The odd hailstone was bigger than a cricket ball, and shaped like a large tomato. The hailstones tore some of the window screens, and shredded the buckets I put on the vege garden hoping to protect the plants."|
|2005 Jan 20||Narrabri||Winds in excess of 150km/h with extensive damage to buildings and trees throughout town. We have a page dedicated specifically to this storm here.|
 Bureau of Meterology
 "Narrabri: A Century Remembered 1901-2001" Edited by Robyn Dampney Compiled by John Brooks and The History of Narrabri, 1901-2001 Book Committee.