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Hail storm packs a punch

A massive hail storm plowed across Southern Indiana and the Louisville area late Saturday afternoon, leaving a wide path of damage in its wake. Damage was extensive as the supercell made its more than 200-mile journey.
The storm originated in eastern Kansas and soon went severe and tornadic east of St. Louis, prompting its first tornado warning. The cell later weakened but recycled again west of Vincennes, where tornado warnings again went up but just missed the city’s north side. The giant supercell again weakened and then wobbled to both the northeast and east before finally making a right turn diving to the southeast. A tornado watch had already been put in place for the area earlier in the day.
When the storm reached the Washington area, a third tornado warning was issued for Daviess and Martin counties. The National Weather Service reported 90-mph winds when the storm crossed the Washington Airport. The first major hail was reported when baseball-size stones punched holes into a golf course in French Lick.
Severe storm warnings soon went out for Lawrence, Orange, Crawford and Perry counties as the cell continued to drop to the southeast. Sallie Rentchler, of near Grantsburg, felt its punch as it began to unload quarter- and golf ball-size hail.
‘It was nuts,’ Rentchler said. ‘It just started hailing without rain or anything. ‘ It was pretty weird ‘ and scary.’
‘We live in Marengo, got quarter-size hail at our house,’ Tracie Main said. ‘Looks like a family of woodpeckers got a hold of our pool cover. And all my plants (hostas, rose bushes, etc.), appear to be shredded.’
By the time the hail core reached southern Orange County and the Marengo area, it was more than five miles wide and intensifying. Golf ball-size hail pelted the area and winds knocked down a power line along S.R. 64. The storm continued to Milltown where golf ball-size hail covered the ground.
‘The wind was very, very strong, bending trees over,’ Connie Thompson said. ‘The wind picked up and the hail started. I have never seen so much hail in my lifetime. It was so loud and so much in volume. We ran to the bathroom and closed the door. I was so scared I said, ‘Lord, be with us.’
‘I called my husband, Frank (Thompson), and our son, Josh, who had run to Corydon for pizza,’ she said. ‘I told them to get somewhere safe. The hail was so loud that I could hardly hear Frank on the cell phone. He said he could hear the hail and the fear in my voice.’
‘All hail broke loose,’ James Kennedy quipped. ‘For almost three full minutes, golf ball-sized to handball-sized hail pummeled the house and vehicles. By this time, the ground is completely covered. The sound was amazing. It was as loud as any thunderstorm I have ever seen. As it passed, the ice began to melt and caused a very dense fog to rise like you use to see in the old horror movies. An hour later it was all gone.’
After passing through Milltown, the storm made more of a turn to the east and headed toward Ramsey, the size of hail also increasing to that of lemons.
‘I was sitting in my room doing homework, and it started sounding like someone was knocking on our back porch on the window,’ Kacey Cox said. ‘I ignored it until it started sounding pretty intense. I walked outside onto our porch and saw dime-sized hail falling along with the rain. The wind started to pick up and got super crazy for a while, and as the wind picked up so did the hail.’
At least one window was completely knocked out at the Cox home by the hail stones.
The giant hail core stretched from Palmyra to south of New Salisbury where even more damage was reported.
‘It was so loud and scary,’ Sherry Knight, of New Salisbury, said. ‘I was afraid we would have broken windows.’
‘It was very intense,’ Laurel Kirby said. ‘It hit hard then backed off ‘ I thought it was over ‘ but (it) just hit even harder. The storm probably lasted a total of 30 minutes. Neither my husband nor I had ever seen that much hail. It was crazy. We know we have siding damage but haven’t been on the roof yet.’
‘We can see the plywood through the holes in (the) siding on front of (the) house,’ said Sandy Heilig, who lives four miles south of New Salisbury. ‘Hail broke out the security light over the garage. It’s over four inches deep in front of the garage door.’
Heilig said her husband, Gary, used a snow shovel to clean up the broken glass in the garage to keep their vehicle’s tires from being punctured.
‘I’m sick, just totally sickened,’ she said. ‘I just want to cry, so much damaged including the camper, house.’
Cody Willis of Louisville was driving through New Salisbury when the storm hit and decided to take cover at the Thriftway grocery store.
‘It sounded as if there (was) a tornado above us; the hail was definitely pounding down,’ she said.
‘It was crazy,’ said Tonya Bourland-Whittaker, who was traveling on S.R. 135 when the storm hit. ‘It looked like we were driving in snow.’
High winds knocked down tree limbs onto S.R. 64 west of Georgetown, and the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Department was called to help in the clean-up. A large tree was blown onto a car and house at the home of Larry Buechler in Bradford.
The storm continued into Louisville where hail pelted Churchill Downs and Bellarmine University. At Bellarmine, former North Harrison High School golfer Allison Dooley had holes punched in the back window of her car by the large hail stones, including one hole larger than a ping-pong ball.
‘It was about golf ball size,’ Dooley said, adding that she should have gotten out one of her golf clubs. ‘There were a couple cars at Bellarmine just as bad or worse.’
Former Crawford Countian Jesse (Bitzer) Clements lives two streets from Churchill Downs and watched as the hail storm pelted both her house and the track.
‘The entire sky went black,’ she said. ‘I sat on the porch and watched it roll in. About five minutes after my husband pulled in, the wind picked up and we got pounded.’
The storm finally weakened and the hail became smaller after passing through the Louisville area. Residents affected by the storm should contact their insurance agencies for damage claims.