Thursday, July 28, 2016

Large hail pounds the Saguenay region of Quebec

Widespread damage occurred in the Saguenay region of Quebec on Wednesday, after baseball-size hail pounded the area. (TWN Photo courtesy Anne-Julie Belley)
 A fierce hailstorm caused widespread damage across the Saguenay region of Quebec on Wednesday, July 27. Hail as large as 8cm in diameter fell in L'Anse-Saint-Jean, 2 to 5cm in La Baie and 2 to 4cm in Bagotville. The hail was part of a series of severe thunderstorms that swept across most of central and eastern Quebec, as well as northern Maine and New Brunswick. The storms were fueled by persistent hot and humid weather. Strong winds also accompanied the thunderstorm cells, knocking down trees and power lines. Widespread damage to homes and cars was reported as a result of the hail.

Hail develops when strong updrafts in thunderstorms carry raindrops high into extremely cold regions of the atmosphere. Typically the storms in question are towering in nature, with cloud heights in excess of 30,000 feet. The raindrops freeze into balls of ice. The hailstone grows by colliding with super-cooled water droplets in the cloud. These freeze on contact with the evolving hailstone. The hail will be lifted multiple times into the upper portion of the thunderstorm, adding a layer of ice each time. Hail falls to the ground when the ice becomes too heavy for the updraft to maintain it, or the updraft weakens. Hail can be driven into the ground, cars, homes and people, by very strong winds that accompany the thunderstorm. The more severe the storm, the larger the hail. The hail can also merge with other stones, creating awkward and dangerous shapes. Hail has been know to cause widespread million-dollar damage. The largest hailstone reported in the US was in Vivian, South Dakota on June 23, 2010. It was 8 inches (20cm) in diameter, weighing in at 1 pound 15 ounces (878 grams). In Canada, the largest stone fell at Cedoux, Saskatchewan, on August 27, 1973. The hailstone was 11.4cm in diameter (4.5 inches), and weighed 290 grams (0.6 pounds).

Hail can damage windows and rip the siding from homes. (NOAA Photo)
Montreal often records small hail during summer storms. However, on May 29th, 1986, and on the same date in 1987, the city had major hailstorms. The hail measured up to 8cm (3 inches) in diameter and destroyed numerous trees and gardens. Damage was reported to homes and cars as well. The 1986 storm alone produced estimated insurable losses in excess of $70 million. I lived in southern Saskatchewan from 1997 to 2000 and witnessed many large hailstorms. One particular storm in 1998, left the roads covered in deep hail, and also damaged my car. It was before the digital era, so the photo lives in a box somewhere... and I will find it someday.

No comments: