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Destructive hail and tornadoes slam southern U.S., causing damage in excess of 1 billion dollars


Severe hailstorms and tornadoes pounded the southern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, April 28 and 29, 2021, leaving a trail of destruction. As a result, more than 28 000 customers were without power in Texas alone. The storms caused damage in excess of $1 billion dollars.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) received a total of nine tornado reports from Oklahoma and Arkansas, as well as Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois. Preliminary reports show damage to residential properties and snapped trees.

In Texas, powerful supercell thunderstorms caused the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue tornado warnings through early Thursday.

More than 28 000 customers lost access to electricity that day. The system also brought hail up to 7.6 cm (3 inches) in diameter to San Antonio and Fort Worth. 

SPC received at least 100 reports of hail from Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, with the latter bearing the brunt of the extreme weather. Baseball-sized hail battered the state, particularly the Norman area, inflicting major damage to homes and businesses.

"It quickly became clear that we were almost certainly facing a billion-dollar event," said Steve Bowen, head of catastrophe insight at Aon Insurance. "Unfortunately, we saw significant hail swaths impact highly exposed areas around San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Norman."

Northern Illinois University meteorologist Victor Gensini also stated that the storms on Wednesday night (LT) was "certainly a billion-dollar hail loss day across the U.S., San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas– along with Norman– were all impacted with large to significant hail."

Gensini added that there was one gargantuan hail report near Hondo, Texas, measuring around 10 cm (4 inches).

According to CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen, it would be the second billion-dollar disaster this year in Texas, following the deep freeze in February.

Heavy rain and flash flooding are likely in parts of southern Texas from Friday to Saturday, April 30 to May 1, according to the NWS.

"The sole weather hazard associated with precipitation over the next few days will be found throughout southern Texas," it wrote.

"A stalled frontal boundary draped across the region and a closed upper-level low located over northern Mexico will help funnel moisture from the western Gulf of Mexico into the Lone Star State."

"Showers and thunderstorms are already impacting parts of southern Texas, with more on the way for the first half of the weekend."

Featured image credit: Haley Brink

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