Tacarigua residents surprised by hail

Tacarigua resident Alan D’Andrade holds a Ziploc bag containing hailstones he collected on Monday afternoon.
– PHOTO COURTESY ALAN D’ANDRADE

While most of the country steamed in high temperatures, residents in several parts of Tacarigua were battered by hailstones on Monday afternoon.

Newsday understands residents in Arouca and Trincity were surprised to see hail falling on their houses and drivers had to slow down or stop briefly to avoid getting into accidents.

Newsday spoke with Tacarigua resident Alan D’Andrade, who said he was shocked to hear what sounded like pebbles falling on his roof at around 1.20 pm.

On checking he saw hailstones on the ground outside his house.

“I’m a geography teacher, so my first instinct was to collect as many samples as I could. In all my years living here I’ve never seen hail fall – but I have heard of it happening in other areas.

“Most of them were about the size of a ten-cent coin. Most were round, but there were a few jagged ones as well.

“I haven’t heard of them doing much damage to people’s homes or cars, but I suspect it might just be minor damage to the paint.”

D’Andrade, who lives near the Priority Bus Route, said he recalled seeing drivers slow down and in some cases stop altogether before the hail stopped after about 20 minutes.

Senior meteorologist in the Met Office Carol Subrath-Ali confirmed that hail had fallen in those areas.

She explained, “It doesn’t have to do with seasonality per se, but it happens in areas where there are well-developed thunderclouds.

“Hail forms in these clouds when raindrops are taken up into the clouds by strong vertical winds called updrafts.

“They freeze and get heavy and are pushed rapidly to the surface by downward-flowing winds called downdrafts. Because of how quickly they deposit, they don’t get a chance to melt.”

There were several thunderstorms over Arouca and Trincity on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Subrath-Ali said while hail caused people some discomfort, it was usually a sign of more dangerous weather events like lightning storms.

She said the last hailstones were recorded on October 20, 2020.