Melbourne: A violent storm with hail-stones the size of golf balls brought Melbourne to a standstill on Saturday, as rains elsewhere threatened to inundate a rural town.
The storm, which hurled 19 millimetres (three-quarters of an inch) of rain in just 18 minutes on Australia`s second city, flooded streets and forced the cancellation of horse races and an Aussie Rules match.
"It was a very dangerous thunderstorm," said the weather bureau`s senior forecaster Richard Carlyon. "We don`t often see storm cells like that."
Residents reported seeing hail-stones five centimetres (two inches) across, blanketing the city in scenes reminiscent of snow.
"It was very dark and all of a sudden it was like a hurricane or a howling wind came through," said Josh Bell, who was at Flemington race course when the storm hit.
"Marble-sized hail stones came down for about 10 minutes. The track was covered in hail. It was all white. It looked like it had snowed."
As forecasters warned of further Melbourne storms, emergency services in the north-eastern state of Queensland warned that the worst floods since 1890 could engulf about 80 percent of the rural town of St George.
About 40 of the town`s 2,800 residents have already been forced into a makeshift evacuation centre with the nearby Balonne River expected to peak at a record 13.5 metres (44 feet) following heavy rains.