Canberra battered by destructive hail storm of 'golfball-sized' stones

Australia's capital has been battered by a dramatic hail storm on Monday, the golfball-sized stones pummeling a path of destruction across Canberra.

The giant hailstones had people ducking for cover, with lumps of ice damaging cars, property and trees across the capital.

Stunned locals shared videos of the event to social media as the destructive storm cell moved across the city and broader New South Wales (NSW).

Canberra resident Joanne Carvolth uploaded footage of the hail striking outside the National Gallery of Australia, the force of the stones shredding trees and creating waves in the water feature as tradies sheltered beneath an umbrella. She later shared photos depicting the "absolute carnage" caused by the hail.

"Not a good time to go for lunch," Carvolth quipped, her video amassing more than 307,000 views in a matter of hours.

ABC reporter Matt Roberts also shared a glimpse of the destruction in one Australian National University car park, the hail shattering and denting the windows of multiple cars. 

"The panel beaters will be cheering," one person observed.

The force of the hail also battered birds out of the sky, leading to upsetting images of the bruised animals on Twitter as locals did their bit to help the wildlife.

According to 9 News, Australian Capital Territory's (ACT's) Emergency Services Agency received 620 calls for assistance by 1:50pm (local time). The ACT State Emergency Service, ACT Fire & Rescue and ACT Rural Fire Service are working collectively to respond to roof damage, electrical threats and flooding.

The NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed that the NSW Bureau of Meteorology is "tracking a number of large and dangerous storm cells across NSW", with multiple locations across the state being issued with severe thunderstorm warnings. 

"These storms are likely to produce damaging, locally destructive winds, large and possibly giant hailstones and heavy rainfall," the RFS tweeted.

Although the hail may be responsible for a number of insurance claims, the storms have provided welcome relief for bushfire-ravaged and drought-stricken areas, allowing firefighters to prepare containment lines ahead of a forecasted return to bushfire conditions later in the week.

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