Large hailstones kill at least one and injure dozens in Spain


A sudden hailstorm in Spain’s Catalonia region prompted people to take shelter on Tuesday, with nearly four-inch hailstones killing a toddler and injuring around 50 others, according to reports from Reuters.

Softball-sized hailstones hit the Spanish village of La Bisbal d’Empordà. social media video shows the hailstones landing like missiles in a backyard swimming pool, launching large splashes into the air. Another one video shows the aftermath of the hailstorm with several broken car windows erased by falling ice.

Hailstones began falling as a band played on a canvas-covered terrace at a local hotel, causing chaos at the scene, musician Sicus Carbonell told Reuters.

“It was chaos, with little boys and girls running alone, some parents were able to grab their kids,” Carbonell said. Reuters. “Then a hailstone went through the fabric…and I told my group that either we walked into the restaurant or one of those tennis balls would fall on us and we wouldn’t make it.”

A storm brought massive hailstones to La Bisbal d’Empordà, Spain on August 30, damaging cars and injuring residents. (Video: The Washington Post)

Broken bones and bruises were the most common injuries from the sudden barrage. A 20-month-old girl was killed when one of the hailstones hit her in the head.

“We had the terrible case of the little girl who was hit by a stone,” the mayor of La Bisbal d’Empordà, Carme Vall, told Spanish national television channel RTVE on Wednesday morning, according to a report by the Guardian. “There wasn’t much to do for her and she died today. It was a terrible accident. »

Five things you need to know about hail, such as “yes, it happens in the summer”

Hailstones rarely kill or injure people, making Tuesday’s hailstorm in Spain highly unusual. Forecasts and warning systems generally allow people to seek shelter, which means that most hailstone damage is to cars and homes, which can be significant.

The hailstones that hit Catalonia on Tuesday were the largest measured in Spain since at least 2002, according to Catalan weather agency Meteocat tweeted. The thunderstorms that produced the hail were triggered by a cold front approaching Western Europe from the Atlantic Ocean.

Hailstorms can be billion dollar disasters, crushing roofs and shattering glass over a wide area. In 2022, at least two hailstorms caused more than $1 billion, according to the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Remarkably, these hailstorms hit nearly the same region — parts of southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin — just 10 days apart.

In the country’s hail alley, severe storms and booming growth are on a costly collision course

But dangerous hailstorms have already caused deaths and injuries in the United States. In 2018, a destructive hailstorm hit parts of Colorado, killing scores of animals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and injuring at least 14 people.

“One person’s watch exploded when it was hit by hail, and another was hit so hard in the head that his helmet was damaged,” zoo chief executive Bob Chastain said.

According to information from the weather blog, only three people were killed by hailstones in the United States. Category 6 in 2020.

The deadliest hailstorm on record occurred in Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1888. Hail the size of oranges fell, killing 246 people and hundreds of cattle, according to a report in the journal Météo, climat et société.

Argentina’s ‘gargantuan’ hailstorm in 2018 may have topped world record

The biggest hailstone ever recorded in the United States fell in Vivian, SD, in 2010. The hailstone measured an astonishing eight inches in diameter and weighed a record 1.9375 pounds, breaking previous records set in 2003 and 1970, respectively. The hailstone was likely even larger when it fell, as melting and sublimation caused the stone to shrink before it could be verified by the National Weather Service.

Some believe, however, that larger hailstones fell on Earth. A hailstone that fell in Argentina could have measured up to 9.3 inches in diameter, meaning it would break the record if verified. The storm produced at least one gargantuan 7.1 inch stone, which was safely stored in a freezer for official measurements.

“The hail lasted 20 minutes. It was a bit scary,” said Victoria Druetta, who grabbed the stone. “It hit and then exploded and melted some of it. It was probably even bigger.

Costly hailstorms multiply rapidly. Here’s what the weather community is doing about it.

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