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Tornado hits Armidale as Queensland warned storm threat not over yet


South-east Queenslanders should batten down for more wild weather today, with severe thunderstorms expected after a late-night tornado hit the regional NSW city of Armidale.

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The tornado hit around 10pm on Thursday, leaving a trail of destruction.

Emergency services received more than 120 calls for help in the Northern Tablelands city after cars were flipped, roofs were ripped off and power lines and trees fell, leaving thousands of homes without power.

Severe thunderstorms also hit Sydney with most damage occurring in the west and southwest. Hail larger than five centimetres was reported between Sydney and Cowra in the state’s central west.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has this morning issued a severe thunderstorm warning for residents in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, the Scenic Rim, Sunshine Coast and on the Gold Coast.

The BOM said a low pressure system was pushing several storm fronts ahead of itself as it swept east across the state towards Moreton Bay. The bureau said the system was triggering thunderstorms, with heavy rainfall expected to lead to flash flooding.

A general thunderstorm warning has been issued for the south-east coast and parts of the Darling Downs, Burnett, Granite Belt and Wide Bay region.

The BOM said there were at least three active storm systems across the Caboolture, Scenic Rim and Warwick regions.

Meteorologist James Thompson told the ABC the storms were expected to start to clear by the afternoon, but warnings could remain in place for the Sunshine Coast. Overnight the BOM recorded large hail on the Sunshine Coast, but not as much rainfall as was expected.

“Things will clear pretty quickly from this afternoon,” Thompson said.

“It will get pushed offshore pretty quickly with those westerly winds that we’re forecasting for the next couple of days.”

He said the weekend was expected to bring sunshine and a top of 28 degrees Celsius.

NSW State Emergency Service Superintendent Scott Dodson said there were 212 calls for help on Thursday night in Sydney and the lower Blue Mountains.

The roof at a shopping centre at Mt Druitt collapsed as the storm raged.

“We had over 5000 people evacuated but fortunately zero injuries, which is a great result,” he told Nine Network on Friday.

The tornado in Armidale left a trail of destruction,

Around half the population of 25,000 are without power and the SES is working to clear roads blocked by trees and debris.

“There’s a lot of damage up in the Armidale area overnight. Fire and rescue are working with SES up there,” Dodson said.

The SES has formed strike teams to help the community with the clean-up.

“We just want to make sure that everything is safe and help get the residents up there back to normal,” Dodson said.

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