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Freak summer hailstorm turns city into winter wonderland

Travis Fedschun, July 2, 2019 7:00PM Fox News

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It was easier to get around on a bike than walk or find and drive your car after the storm hit. Picture: AFP media_cameraIt was easier to get around on a bike than walk or find and drive your car after the storm hit. Picture: AFP

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An incredible summer hailstorm has buried trucks and cars in about 1.5m of ice in the Mexican city of Guadalajara.

After several warm days with temperatures above 30C, residents woke up on Sunday morning to streets so full of ice no one would have been too surprised to see that polar bears or penguins had moved into the neighbourhood.

Children played in the ice piled high in the streets when just the day before they’d complained about the heat and wouldn’t get out of the swimming pool.

The hailstorm buried Guadalajara in Mexico under 1.5m of ice. Picture: Ulises Ruiz/AFP media_cameraThe hailstorm buried Guadalajara in Mexico under 1.5m of ice. Picture: Ulises Ruiz/AFP

“I’ve never seen such scenes in Guadalajara,” State Governor Enrique Alfaro wrote on Twitter.

“These are never-before-seen natural phenomenons*. It’s incredible.”

About 200 homes and businesses were damaged by the hail, according to news agency AFP.

Nearly 5 feet of hail blankets Guadalajara

Photos posted by police showed vehicles had been swept away and then trapped in the icy deluge*.

The Mexican army helped city workers clear the streets, according to Mr Alfaro, who added there were no reports of injuries or deaths.

Drivers had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. Picture: Ulises Ruiz/AFP media_cameraDrivers had to be rescued from the roofs of their cars. Picture: Ulises Ruiz/AFP

Guadalajara, which is Mexico’s second-largest city, is sometimes hit by severe weather because it is 1554m above sea level. That’s about as high as the highest mountains in South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria and much higher than any point in Western Australia. (Mt Kosciuszko, in NSW, is 2228m high and Australia’s highest point.)

Mr Alfaro said he had never witnessed such intense hail in Guadalajara.

Just the day before it felt too hot to head outside to walk the dog. The morning after the storm, it was too cold! Picture: AFP media_cameraJust the day before it felt too hot to head outside to walk the dog. The morning after the storm, it was too cold! Picture: AFP

Hail forms when a water droplet* is picked up by updrafts* of warm air in a thunderstorm and rises to such heights it freezes, according to the US National Weather Service.

Hot air rises and cold air sinks.

“As the frozen droplet begins to fall … carried by cold downdrafts* … it may thaw as it moves into warmer air toward the bottom of the thunderstorm,” the NWS states. “Our little half-frozen droplet may also get picked up again by another updraft … carrying it back into very cold air and refreezing it.”

The journey in the updrafts and downdrafts of a thunderstorm adds more layers of ice to the frozen droplet until it finally falls to the ground as hail.

The hailstones that fell on Guadalajara were small — less than 1cm in diameter. Hailstones are often much larger than this.

A bulldozer is used to remove the hail. Picture: Jalisco State Civil Defense Agency via AP media_cameraA bulldozer is used to remove the hail. Picture: Jalisco State Civil Defense Agency via AP

Meteorologist* James Andrews told the New York Post it’s more common to experience hail at higher elevations.

“What’s special about this, is the intensity* of the storm and the huge amount of hail that it brought,” he said. “It’s staggering.”

Much of the damage was to cars pushed down sloped streets in an icy flood.

“If you have intense hail falling along with rain and it’s happening in the same place for an extended length of time, you’re going to get tremendous* run-off,” Mr Andrews said.

Cars are piled up after the hailstorm hit. Picture: Jalisco State Civil Defense Agency via AP media_cameraOnce the ice melted people found their cars, some of which had been carried along in icy flash flooding. Picture: Jalisco State Civil Defense Agency via AP

Mr Andrews said the deepest ice was probably like a partially frozen flash flood.

“It may have just been a freaky* coincidence of the local layout,” he said.

GLOSSARY

  • phenomenons: things we notice, especially things that are hard to explain, used as plural of phenomenon instead of phenomena
  • deluge: a severe flood
  • droplet: little drop
  • updrafts: movement of air upwards
  • downdrafts: movement of air downwards
  • meteorologist: weather scientist
  • intensity: how intense or strong something is
  • tremendous: very great in amount of intensity
  • freaky: odd or strange

EXTRA READING

What causes hail and is it dangerous?

Why does lightning strike the same place twice?

Australia’s record heat

America shivers through record big freeze

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What country is in Guadalajara in?
  2. What season is it there? What was the weather like before the storm?
  3. What is the altitude in Guadalajara?
  4. Is hail more or less likely at high altitude?
  5. How big were the hailstones?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Weather extremes
Divide a page in half and draw two illustrations showing the weather one day in Guadalajara (above 30C) to the next (hailstorms). Draw some characters with captions coming out of their mouths telling us what they are thinking.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts

2. Extension
Explain in your own words why Guadalajara is sometimes hit by extreme weather. The answer is contained within the article. Draw a flowchart to help you explain.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity 
Curriculum Links: English, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalist has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever seen a big hailstorm? Describe what it was like. Did you collect or play with the hail? Was anything damaged?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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