Hail can be fascinating and even beautiful, but it can also be deadly. A form of solid precipitation made from ice and water, hail forms under certain conditions of wind and temperature that can occur during thunderstorms. Hailstones, essentially balls of ice, can measure anywhere from 0.2 inches to 6 inches across. The larger the hailstones, the more likely they are to cause damage to people, buildings, cars, especially windshield damage, and crops. Some of the worst hailstorms in history have been those that have come up quickly and unexpectedly.
1888, Northern India
It was a sudden, severe hailstorm that caught people unaware in 1888. The area of northern India that was struck, now called Uttar Pradesh, is on the Deccan Plateau, a region where large hailstones often form. Even for this region, however, this particular storm was especially devastating, in part because of the high winds that accompanied it.
The worst of the devastation, however, came in the timing of the storm. Without a system to warn people in place, the suddenness of the storm and the fact that it came up at midday meant that many farmers were out in their fields. The area hit hardest was an agricultural area called Moradabad. Approximately 240 people were killed in a storm where orange-sized hailstones were sighted. There was also a tremendous loss of livestock, with over 1600 goats and sheep killed. The losses were terrible on that day in April, and the damages had long-lasting repercussions for the community.
1995, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
This hailstorm is sometimes referred to as the Mayfest Storm because it struck on the day of a local festival by that name in the Fort Worth area. The hail formed as the result of a supercell thunderstorm, sometimes also called a rotating thunderstorm. These are the rarest kind of thunderstorms and can be very severe. The storm covered an area of about 50 miles in Tarrant County, Texas.
The hail that fell on that day in May had stones as large as 4 inches across. Since many people were outside at the festival when the storm hit, there were around 100 injuries. Some of the injuries were the result of broken glass since people tried to shelter in their cars. High winds and flooding, as the storm moved through and began to slow, also wreaked havoc, with 13 people dying as a result of flash floods. The financial cost of the storm damage is estimated to have been at least one billion dollars.
2010, Perth, Australia
Even with better storm warnings in place, sometimes a severe hailstorm can temporarily cripple a city. That’s a good description for what happened in Perth in 2010, when a hailstorm hit following a period of dryness. Huge rains and hail combined to create flash floods. Schools, hospitals, shopping and residential areas were all damaged. At least 150,000 residences were left without electrical power. Railways and the airport were both temporarily shut down, the airport because part of the terminal roof collapsed. The hailstones were reportedly as big as golf balls. Traffic snarled because of damages to cars and power interruptions.
About the author: Ace Discount Glass and Door is an auto, home, and commercial glass repair and replacement shop located in Austin, Texas, specializing in windshield replacement. You can contact Ace here to learn more about their glass services.