Hailstorms hammer San Joaquin Valley crops

April 19, 2012CALIFORNIAA series of freak April storms hammered the San Joaquin Valley last week, damaging vulnerable crops with a one-two-three punch of hail, lightning and tornados that caused millions of dollars of crop losses. It will be several weeks before an accurate tabulation of losses can be made, but for some growers it amounted to 100 percent of this year’s production. A number of crops suffered damage from the unrelenting power of hailstones measuring 1.5 inches in diameter or larger. Nature’s fury came in the form of “super-cells”—large thunderstorms that moved slowly across the valley from Kings County, through parts of Tulare County, up to Merced County and all the way eastward to Mariposa County. The most destructive storm brought torrents of hail across a six-to-eight mile-wide swath of farmland that extended some 30 miles, accompanied by thunderstorms and numerous lightning strikes. The epicenter of the more significant of two super-cells last Wednesday was in Tulare County near Traver. Grower Ed Needham, who was caught driving near Traver when the storm struck, described it as “the sound of someone hitting my truck with a hammer.” Needham said he was in his truck with two other farmers and had pulled over to watch a huge storm cell to the south when the other cell struck from the north. “It started out small and was no big deal and then all of a sudden the side-view mirrors on my truck shattered and the road started getting covered with huge hailstones. I looked at the wind and saw that it was going south, so I took off and went to the south and got out of it,” he said. Steve Johnson, a storm chaser with Atmospheric Group International, tracked the storms closely and estimated that the damage to agriculture could reach $25 million or more just from the two supercells that hit last Wednesday afternoon. “While other thunderstorms were moving at about 25 miles per hour, these two slugs were moving at about 7 or 8 miles an hour, so they just trudged along producing very large hail and a high quantity of lightning,” he said. “I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven’t even budded yet.” –Ag Alert
contribution by Emanni
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This entry was posted in 2012, Climate unraveling, Cloudburst storms with flashflooding, Earth Changes, Extreme Weather Event, Food chain unraveling, Gale-force winds and gusts, Unusual hail storm. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hailstorms hammer San Joaquin Valley crops

  1. James says:

    Dum, dum, dum!!! I wonder the recap of 2012 is going to look like. I am guessing not good at all.

  2. Donna says:

    Sad to think such a beautiful sight can be so harmful to farmers. :(

  3. Steve says:

    I use to live in the central valley and the storms have been getting worse every year. Good Luck all and God Bless

  4. Marie says:

    I used to live there too and still have a lot of relatives there. Never have I seen anything like that before! But that picture is amazingly beautiful!

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