Hail storm tears through HSC
July 4, 2019
The bright blue summer sky dimmed quickly, shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon. As the town sirens sounded and a rapid series of alerts was issued across radio and cell networks, it was clear that this particular thunderstorm wasn't just going to skirt around the town and was gunning for Thermopolis.
Winds estimated at 50-60 miles per hour and a severe temperature drop were the first signs of the storm's arrival. Warnings advised people to remain indoors, which of course sparked a natural curiosity as to what the skies looked like and whether a tornado was coming as well. Those who ventured outside didn't stay for long, though, as wind-driven rain and hail lashed through the town. Though it only lasted 20-30 minutes, it certainly made an impact.
Hot Springs County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Gordon said Tuesday morning that he had received reports of damage in town to residential windows and structural windows, as well as vehicle bodies and windows.
During the Hot Springs County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Gordon said the National Weather Service provided warning about the storm 42 minutes in advance.
While those in town received plenty of hailstones, Gordon pointed out that the heaviest concentration was south between town and Lane 12. That was where he heard a lot of reports of campers torn up, and damage to homes and vehicles.
Additionally, he said, there were some livestock that were hit and spooked by hail and tore through some fence. Though they got cut up a bit, Gordon said the animals will be okay.
In watching the storm as it came on, Gordon said it was coming right for Thermopolis from the west but when it reached the intersection of highways 120 and 170 it turned slightly to the right, resulting in the area south of town getting the brunt.
The round hailstones were estimated at about 2.25-2.5 inches, but some may have appeared larger because they were two or more stones frozen together.
Kent Hessenthaler reported that any place where his corn was hit by the big hail, about 20-25 percent of the crop, was a total loss. Much of the remainder is shredded though he expects it will still come in, but may be a few weeks late. Also impacting the corn, he said, was the cooler spring that resulted in only 40-50 percent germination. Hessenthaler also noted he had five windows broken out and the metal siding at his home looks like a hammer was taken to it.