FOUNTAIN, CO – Residents in southern Colorado Springs and Fountain woke up this morning to harrowing damage on homes, cars and landscaping, after an early-morning thunderstorm pounded the area with baseball-sized chunks of hail from the sky.
"My neighborhood looks like a war zone," said Jennifer Stark, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service’s Pueblo unit. The hail damaged the siding and fences and cars parked outside across Fountain. "There’s roof damage, two broken windows on our house. My son’s car has several broken windows and our tree in front was basically stripped."
National Weather Service started warning about a severe thunderstorm around midnight, lasting until around 3:15 a.m.
"It started with heavy rain, then the sound of smaller hail was really loud everywhere," Stark said.
Large hail stones are created when updraft winds up to 60 mph push frozen rain back up through the clouds, where they obtain more and more layers of frozen ice, until the hail stone is heavy enough to fall via gravity to the ground.
"It’s like a baseball being thrown by a professional pitcher," Stark said.
Severe thunderstorms are unusual at night in Colorado, Stark said.
"Usually storms are diurnally driven by heat of the sun," she said. "When the sun sets, the atmosphere is usually more stable and you’re less likely to see those big thunderstorms."
The NWS began to send out warnings after midnight, she said. "I don’t know how many people actually got those warnings at that time of night, but luckily not a lot of people were out."
Hail stone in Fountain, Colorado via Jennifer Stark
Melting hail shows concentric circles as hail stones are pushed upwards into the clouds and obtain more layers of ice. Via Jennifer Stark
Image via Amanda Schnetzler