News

Cold as ice: hailstones ‘rock’ island

  • Ice pearl: hail hits the streets of Hamilton yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Collector’s items: Holden and Harlow Pettingill show off a handful of hail (Photograph supplied)
  • Hail in Hamilton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • The remnants of yesterday’s hailstorm taken from the top of Cedar Hill, Warwick (Photograph by John C. Jones)
  • The remnants of yesterday’s hailstorm taken from the top of Cedar Hill, Warwick (Photograph by John C. Jones)
  • The effect of yesterday’s hailstorm taken in Warwick (Photograph by Mike Watson)

Hailstones pummelled the island yesterday after a low-pressure weather front brought heavy rain and lightning to Bermuda.

Michelle Pitcher and Gary Hall, meteorologists at the Bermuda Weather Service, said the island experienced hail once or twice a year, but these hailstones were larger than normal.

Ms Pitcher said: “Its turned out to be extra exciting today, weather-wise.

“Yesterday’s hail, from what we have recorded as well as from reports across the island, has been in the quarter-inch to half-inch range in size.

“Typically in Bermuda, we see much smaller hail as a result of cold outbreaks. We are too relatively warm for that type of process to form hail.”

The youngsters at Stepping Stones Nursery School in Devonshire missed out on watching the hail fall, but they still got a weather-related show.

Kristan Burch, head teacher at Stepping Stones, said lightning struck a utility pole near the school just before 11.30am.

She said: “The wires were on fire, so I called 911. I was really quite worried about it. I didn’t know if the fire was going to spread. Apparently, the police were in the area and they had already radioed it in just in case there were any reports of an explosion.”

Ms Burch said the school was without power for about two hours, but the children were more interested in watching the Belco trucks in action than anything else.

She said: “The children just heard the bang — we were doing our school photos — but they were excited to see the police car along with the Belco trucks.”

Ms Pitcher explained that the hail was caused by long-lived thunderstorms that make up a part of a stalled weather front.

She said: “We have been experiencing our typical winter patterns with low pressure systems sweeping off the US East Coast and through our area. There has been a rather stagnant upper level trough over the eastern US, which has allowed the front this past weekend and today’s front to stall over us.

“With no forward progression in the upper levels — the polar jet stream — low pressure systems are continually generated in the same areas and tend to follow similar tracks.”

Yesterday also brought 1.74 inches of rain by 2pm.

Ms Pitcher said the BWS recorded 1.35 inches of rain over the weekend.

The stalled front that caused the recent wet weather was expected to move east over the course of last night.

Cooler, more seasonable temperatures were predicted for the weekend.