Residents might’ve thought they were under fire. Intense pounding, windows smashing, cars skidding off the road, a baby screaming in the back seat of a car – it was the scene of an almost apocalyptic hail storm in Texas that began last Sunday and moved into Monday.
According the Stormersite.com, there were 86 reports of hail yesterday, ranging from 1.00 to 4.25 inches, with the largest report of hail located near Wylie Texas. A further report by the National Weather Service stated that as much as 20 hours after the storm, in many places the hail was still piled three feet deep.
The damage? While Texas insurance claims adjusters are working overtime in estimating the damage to homes, vehicles and businesses from multiple rounds of hailstorms over the state during April, according to an Insurance Council of Texas press release claims for damage to automobiles alone are expected to total 60,000.
“Hail and windstorm claims are still coming in from almost every corner of the state,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “This map showing hail, wind damage and tornadoes is startling because it shows the widespread severity of bad weather in Texas in just the month of April.”
“Hail and windstorm claims are still coming in from almost every corner of the state.”
But the question many of us have is: Is this a sign of times to come? According to Dr. Erich Markus Fischer from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, that answer is a definitive yes. Fischer reports that as many as one in five extreme rain events experienced globally are a result of the 0.85C global rise in temperature.
And the bad news? It’s getting hotter every year. Extreme heatwaves and the heavy rain storms that accompany them are already happening with increasing regularity worldwide. Heat extremes that previously only occurred once every 1,000 days are happening four to five times more often, according to a study published in National Climate Change.
While some point to recent data showing average annual decreases in tornadoes, hurricanes and droughts and wildfire – all considered extreme weather events – hail, interestingly is left out of the mix. But hail is the result of unstable air masses, which often increase with large fluctuations in temperature. And these large temperature fluctuations are happening more regularly.
What does all this mean for residents like those in Texas? Probably more precautions, more hail damage claims, and perhaps another concern for child safety. That screaming baby – an eight month old – was rushed to the emergency room after being hit with one of the grapefruit sized pieces of hail.
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