Overnight storm brings more hail, high wind|[4/11/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 11, 2005

A thunderstorm with spates of hail dumped a third of an inch of rain on Vicksburg this morning, causing trees to fall and knocking out power in some parts of the city.

Warren County and surrounding areas were under a tornado watch until 7 tonight, the National Weather Service said.

Pea- to dime-sized hail was reported in Warren County, with one report of quarter-sized hail on Freetown Road, Emergency Management Director L. W. “Bump” Callaway III said.

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“That was kind of a surprise this morning. It blew up on the west side of Tensas Parish. It was unexpected,” Callaway said.

A tree fell on a utility pole in the 700 block of National Street, cutting off power for part of the street and stranding several residents in their homes because the tree and utility crews blocked the road. Trees were also reported down on Bowmar Avenue and Culkin Road, he said.

National Street residents reported their power going out between 4 and 5 a.m. It was still out as of 9:20 a.m. Four Entergy crews were working this morning to repair the lines. Slightly more than 100 residents on the street lost power, Entergy spokesman Don Arnold said. Other areas that lost power include 13 houses on Evergreen Drive, nine on Markham Street and two on Halls Ferry Road, Arnold said.

David Sterling of 724 National St. said he and his wife were awakened by the sound of hail hitting their house.

“We had gotten up and I felt the home shake,” Sterling said, referring to the falling tree and utility pole. “We thought it might be a thunderclap,” he said.

The tree was on a lot owned by Willmetta Nickerson, 710 National St.

“I was keeping it grown up to keep kids from running through there. It’s funny because I was just saying the other day that we were going to clean it out,” Nickerson said.

Today, winds of 15 to 25 mph were expected, with gusts up to 30 mph. Rainfall was expected to be one to two inches. The high temperature was expected to be 75 degrees and the low, 55.

“It’s building up to be a potentially significant storm coming up today,” Callaway said. He cautioned that tornadoes might spin off of the storm cell.

The weather is supposed to clear up by Tuesday. There is a 30 percent chance of showers on Wednesday, the weather service reports.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Butch said weather tends to be volatile during April.

“April is our biggest month for hail. Sitting this close to the Gulf of Mexico, we’re the first ones to get all this nice warm moisture. You get that mixing with all these other systems, you’re going to get hail,” Butch said.

Hail is created when an upward wind holds rain aloft, driving it to higher, colder altitudes instead of letting it fall. Ice is created and gets steadily larger until it gets too heavy for the updraft to keep it in the air. An updraft of 55 mph can create golf ball-sized hail, while an updraft of 90 mph can create softball-sized hail.

This was the third time hail has fallen on Warren County during the past month.

“We’re kind of like a broken record here with this stuff,” Callaway said.

The number and intensity of storms is unusual, Callaway said, though no larger weather phenomenon like an El Nino or La Nina is to blame.

“It seems to me like this is more than I can remember. It’s not just Warren County, though. It’s all over the state. There have been an unusually high number of cold-weather fronts, not on the ground where we would notice it, but up in the atmosphere,” Callaway said.