The Central Australian town of Alice Springs where the Classic outback Trial is based, was hit hard by freak weather on Friday afternoon, forcing the cancellation of the first days stages. Severe wind gusts carried in 63 mm of rain and an avalanche of hail that has flooded much of the town, brought down trees and cut off many roads. Roads crossing the normally dry Todd River are still underwater today allowing the locals and the crews to photograph the rare sight of a flooded Todd River, about the only redeeming feature for the rally crews, disappointed to miss the first days competition.
A spokesperson for the NTES said this afternoon that they had so far dealt with over 80 calls for assistance to clear fallen trees from houses and cars and to help clean up homes with flood damage and damage to roofs.
The Alice was turned white with the tonnes of hail that was dumped, and the hail damage has caused several roofs to collapse in town, including at the hospital and the Imparja TC studio. There are media reports that some parts of streets in the town had been under a metre of water.
The ABC news website has quoted the Bureau of Meteorology as saying that Alice Springs hasn’t had a severe storm with hail and flooding in June for the last 20 years.
Speaking shortly after the decision to cancel the first day’s competition was made, event director Phillip Bernadou speaking from Lasseters Hotel where the Rally is based said “We’re really disappointed for the competitors but the roads south of town are just impassable. We’re hoping that drying weather over the next few days will mean no more interruptions to the rally.”
The cancellation of the first days stages means crews have an extra day to prepare their cars and do final checks on fuel consumption and spares inventory. It also means they have a day to enjoy Alice Springs and surrounds as well as the Lasseters entertainment complex. “Regrettable though it is, it is a great place for a day off.” observed a philosophical Bernadou.
The 2016 Classic outback Trial has attracted 52 rally crews in classic rally cars like Ford Mustangs, Porsche’s and Datsun 260Z’s, including 4 cars and crews from overseas. Each rally crew will have the support of one or more service crews and the event itself will bring about 50 officials in from all over Australia. In total, at least 350 people associated with the Classic Outback Trial will be in Alice Springs for over a week.
The event runs from June 18 to 24 and starts and finishes each day at Lasseters in Alice Springs.