National

Severe hailstorm wreaks havoc in Canberra

By AAP Newswire

A fierce hailstorm has pelted Canberra with stones the size of golf balls inflicting severe damage across the national capital.

Monday afternoon's 15-minute storm prompted more than 1750 calls for help to the ACT Emergency Services Agency.

Emergency services will work through the night to respond to roof and window damage, fallen trees and electrical hazards.

Hundreds of windscreens were smashed at Old Parliament House, the Australian National University and other parts of the city.

The worst-affected areas were Belconnen in Canberra's north, the city centre and the inner south.

ACT Ambulance Service attended to two people with minor injuries from the storm.

Branches were stripped from trees during the destructive blast, with a wind gust of 117km/h recorded at Canberra Airport.

More than 1000 homes lost power, but most had been restored during the afternoon

The storm thrashed Parliament House, which looked like snow had fallen, but the building escaped serious damage.

The Department of Parliamentary Services said vehicles outside the building and some parts of the surrounding landscape suffered significant damage.

"Fortunately no injuries to people have been reported, and only glazing on some skylights appears to have been impacted by the storm," a spokesperson told AAP.

"Beyond that there appears to have been no significant building damage reported or identified at this stage."

Old Parliament House closed to visitors soon after the storm struck.

Canberra tour guide Tim the Yowie Man tweeted a picture of the National Sound and Film Archive's roof being punctured "like bullets".

It remained open to visitors on Monday despite the damage.

"No staff or visitors have been injured, and the NFSA collection is safe from damage," a spokesman told AAP.

"Our Acton building suffered damage resulting from the thunderstorm, including broken skylights. A number of vehicles in the parking areas were also affected."

However, the National Archives of Australia was closed due to damage.

The National Museum of Australia also shut its doors after the storm tore external roofing, damaged shade cloths and caused leaks in corridors, the cafe and galleries.

Animals were injured during the storm, with parliament staff looking after a bloodied crow that copped a hailstone to its head.

The wild weather is the latest twist in Canberra's bizarre summer after the city was choked with thick bushfire smoke over the past month.