Freak hailstorm wallops Australia amid deadly fires: 'It was like Armageddon'

A freak hailstorm pummeled multiple southeastern Australian cities this week as deadly bushfires continued raging across the country. 

Hailstones the size of golf balls rained down on parts of Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney from Jan. 19 - 20, smashing car windshields, ripping branches from trees, killing wildlife and creating apocalyptic scenes throughout the region.

A woman named Hilary Wardhaugh, who was at the National Library of Australia when the hail began to come down, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it was an "unbelievable" sight.

"It was like Armageddon, basically," she recalled. "There were people running into the library but I'm really hoping that there's no one caught out in it."

"It really only lasted 10 minutes and the amount of damage that it caused was truly unbelievable," she added.

Wardhaugh later shared footage of the library parking lot on Twitter, depicting multiple severely damaged cars.

"Lucky I rode my bike today," she wrote.  

Several more photos shared across social media provide a glimpse into the extent of the storm's damage.

Two photos shared by Australian reporter Josh Butler served to show the stark contrast between weather conditions outside the Parliament House in Canberra over the past 15 days. 

In the first image, the sky behind the building glows orange with smoke and haze emitted by nearby bushfires. In the second, the entire Parliament lawn is covered in ice, providing a rather eerie comparison between the two weather extremes. 

Although the hail and heavy rain wreaked havoc on metropolitan areas, the low-pressure system did provide relief to some regions currently plagued by wildfires. 

Still, dozens of uncontrolled fires remain burning across New South Wales and Victoria, located 285 miles from Canberra, the New York Times reports. 

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