Historic hailstorm hits Beirut, Lebanon

Historic hailstorm hits Beirut, Lebanon

A massive hailstorm accompanied by exceptionally heavy rain and drastic temperature drop hit Lebanon's capital Beirut on December 5, 2020, causing massive floods and traffic chaos. The last time Beirut witnessed a similar event was back in 1968.

The hailstorm lasted about 1 hour and was described by meteorologists as historic.

"This supercell affected only the coastal area around Beirut and its suburbs. A supercell effect is always local. Weather stations in Beirut recorded 50 mm [1.96 inches] of rainfall in a lapse of 25 minutes," Elias Saadeh, founder of Lebanon Weather Forecast, told Al Arabiya English.

"This quantity is considered enormous since it is equivalent to pouring 50 liters of water in each square meter [13 gallons per 10 feet2] in 25 minutes. Moreover, this supercell caused a drastic drop in temperature from 21 to 13.5 °C [69.8 - 55.4 °F] in a couple of minutes," Saadeh said.

The supercell formed because of favorable environmental atmospheric conditions, including but not limited to the variation in temperature between the sea surface temperature and the temperature in the upper levels of the atmosphere, Saadeh said, adding that the updraft speed might have reached around 30 meters per second, explaining the size of hailstones recorded.

Saadeh elaborated that historically, and according to available captures of the previous severe hailstorms, the last time Beirut witnessed a similar event was in the year 1968.

According to Lebanon Weather Forecast, similar events with hail accumulations all over the capital took place in 1920, 1943, 1963, and 1968.

Featured image credit: Talala

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