Large hailstones have rained down on Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra over the past two days, destroying vehicles and punching holes in the house’s roofs.

Suddenly, a season of suffocating heat, bone-dry skies, and voracious fires has given way in southeastern Australia to widespread thunderstorms. Skies once darkened by smoke are now brooding with clouds and rain — at least for a few days. Hailstones were as large as baseballs. Wind gusts topped 70 miles per hour. In some areas, an inch of rain fell in just 30 minutes. A few places experienced flash flooding. Thousands of people were left without power.

But other images from the region, including a wall of dust that swept rural New South Wales, offered a dramatic reminder that Australia’s drought — and the devastating wildfires it has fed — are far from over.
The rain began late last week, delighting Australians seeking solace after a year that was the hottest on record. The actor Russell Crowe shared images of his farm in New South Wales, which had been ravaged by fire but was now turning green.

Dozens of fires are still burning, some out of control, in New South Wales and Victoria. In Canberra, emergency workers who had been preparing to fight fires were ordered back to the city after more than 1,000 homes lost power.