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Rain sweeps through parts of Australia, offers drought relief

TAMWORTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 15: An aerial view as rain begins to fall on drought and fire-ravaged country near Tamworth ahead of predicted further wet weather across NSW and Victoria this week on January 15, 2020 in Tamworth, Australia. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images) (CNN_
TAMWORTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 15: An aerial view as rain begins to fall on drought and fire-ravaged country near Tamworth ahead of predicted further wet weather across NSW and Victoria this week on January 15, 2020 in Tamworth, Australia. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images) (CNN_ (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Melbourne (CNN) – Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain and large hail.

The storms could bring some much-needed relief to the firefighters battling some of the worst blazes the country has seen in decades. But forecasters say it's not yet clear if the rain will fall where it's needed most in the coming days, or whether there will be enough of it to make a difference in fire-ravaged and drought-stricken areas.

So far there hasn't been enough rain to put out the fires, and lightning from the storms has also sparked new blazes.

Authorities are also concerned that a massive inundation could lead to powerful flash flooding, as years of drought have left some regions so dry that rain just runs off the ground. The massive fires have also burned through some of the vegetation that would normally soak up the precipitation.

The Victoria State Emergency Service posted several images on Facebook showing damage from the storm, including a sinkhole 4 meters (13 feet) deep which had opened up.

A massive thank you to all our volunteers across Victoria who attended calls for help during a powerful storm system...

Posted by Victoria State Emergency Service on Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Parts of Melbourne were hit with as much as 77 millimeters (3 inches) of rain, causing flooding and some damage, the Victoria Bureau of Meteorology said Thursday. CNN affiliate Nine News reported some neighborhoods were hit by a month's worth of rain in just hours, though not in East Gippsland, where some of the worst fires in the state are raging.

In New South Wales (NSW) to Victoria’s north, more than 10,000 houses and businesses lost power Thursday due to the storm, Nine News reported. But the storms have also helped authorities battle the blazes. The NSW’s Rural Fire Service (RFS) said on Twitter Thursday that “although this rain won’t extinguish all fires, it will certainly go a long way towards containment.”

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