At first people didn’t believe it, but it really is true. A photo from the National Weather Service’s Amarillo office (NWS) posted on Facebook Wednesday night shows a local firefighter standing next to a wall of hail some four feet high.
In an interview with MSNBC, Krissy Scotten, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Amarillo, denied that the photo just showed ice on top of rocks, as some skeptics asserted after seeing it. “I can assure you we do not have big rocks like that in West Texas,” she told MSNBC. She said the four feet of ice was caused by a lot of rain and water. “Anytime you have hail accumulate 2 to 4 feet high and get over three inches of rain, no matter how it occurs, it’s pretty incredible,” she told the news site. And because of excessive drought in the region, there was a lot of dust, which gave the ice that rock like color.
Commenters were skeptical that the photo actually showed hail, however, so the NWS chimed in on its Facebook page:
Hey everyone, there’s been a lot of speculation on the validity of this photograph and we just wanted to try and answer a few questions. First, the reason there is a cleared out area where the firefighter is standing is due to the heavy rains that fell with the storm that moved the hail and cleared out an area. The fog that is seen is quite common after hail falls, due to the temperature being lowered by the cold icy hail and the increased moisture by the storm is a perfect combination for fog.
The hail looks like one big piece of ice due to the lower resolution photo and the fact that the rain that fell on top of the hail compacts it down and makes individual hailstones harder to distinguish from one another. There is more hail in the foreground compared to the background due to the fact that the hail accumulated in the lower elevation area that the firefighter is standing in and hail got blown around much like the snow drifts the panhandles experience, hence the reason you can see the fence posts in the background. In addition to all this we have multiple reports confirming this from Emergency managers, TXDOT, news media, and firefighters to coincide with what we were viewing on Doppler radar. Thanks for all the likes and great discussion about this everyone!
You can see more at the National Weather Service Amarillo’s Facebook page. And you can learn more about the Texas drought at our new interactive web page, Dried Out: Confronting the Texas Drought.
Here’s a video of some of the flash flooding from the storm from Pronews ABC 7 in Amarillo:
And it looks like more hail is in the cards for Amarillo this afternoon and tonight. From the National Weather Service: