© Viki Lascaris
NSW should brace itself for a slew of fierce summer hail storms with the potential to cause billions of dollars worth of damage, the State Emergency Service (SES)is warning.
More than 50 severe storms are predicted to hit the state's east over the coming months, with some of them likely to be as damaging as Sydney's eastern suburbs hailstorm of 1999.
Hail stones as large as cricket balls
caused more than $1.5 billion of damage during the intense, long-lived thunderstorm.
At the time, it was Australia's most costly natural disaster.
"The hailstorm was of a magnitude seldom seen in Australia or the world," the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website.
In preparation for this year's onslaught of bad weather, NSW SES Commissioner Murray Kear is urging people to take all possible precautions.
"Hail is one of the most destructive weather elements and as we saw in the Sydney hailstorm of 1999, it can cause billions of dollars-worth of damage," he said in a statement today.
"If people prepare their homes and businesses now, we can all make an effort to reduce the amount of damage suffered in severe weather."
Around 10,000 NSW SES volunteers are preparing for the storm season, which officially runs from October to March.