“The hail only fell for 10 minutes, but it was 10 minutes of terror.”
A massive, sudden hailstorm has left at least one child dead, and dozens of people hurt in the Catalonia region of northern Spain this week, where record-setting balls of ice pummeled the town of La Bisbal d'Emporda, leaving the community scrambling to assess the damage.
The softball-sized hail fell for approximately 10 minutes Tuesday, in what one city official described to the to local radio as “10 minutes of terror.” According to Meteocat meteorological service, the storm brought the region’s largest hail balls in approximately 20 years.
Video of the storm posted to Twitter shows a brief glimpse of the 4-inch hailstones’ destructive potential.
One 20-month child was struck in the head during the storm, and died later at a nearby hospital in the city of Girona, BBC reported.
“People started screaming and hiding. There was chaos, with little boys and girls running around alone,” musician Sicus Carbonell told Reuters, describing the scene as his band sheltered under an awning during the storm. “Some parents were able to grab their children,” he added.
“Then a hailstone broke though the fabric,” he continued. “I told my group that either we get into the restaurant or one of those tennis balls would land on us and we wouldn’t make it.”
The size of the hailstones and the ferocity of the storm are believed to be the result of warming regional weather, which has heated the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, making it more meteorologically volatile. Spain is currently in the midst of a catastrophic drought, which has dramatically depleted the country’s civic water reserves.
Violent hailstorms have increasingly dominated the news this past month, with the city of Wallowa, Oregon, estimating at least $1 million in damages from a recent hailstorm that left trees and power lines down across the community. Several days earlier, an enormous hailstorm with pomelo-sized stones was filmed pulverizing an Alberta, Canada, highway, with one particularly frightening moment showing a car full of passengers cowering as their windows shattered going viral across Twitter.