Hurricane force winds, heavy rains and baseball size hail struck the northern part of McAllen on March 29 causing extensive damage to homes, cars and businesses. The damage is expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars in insured losses.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Brownsville said the storm produced a tremendous down draft of wind that in its wake left “a war zone.” Barry Goldsmith, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS, said the storm had peak wind gusts of 75 mph and frequent gusts above 50 mph accompanied by hail up to three inches in diameter.
“The unique part of this storm was its duration which lasted nearly 45 minutes,” said Goldsmith. “There was hail in four foot drifts in some places.”
The wind gusts blew air conditioning units off of businesses and the hail knocked out the windows on vehicles, the sides of homes and commercial property. Trees were stripped of their leaves. One BMW dealership in McAllen reported heavy damage to approximately 80 new cars on its lot.
Kevin Shropshire, an employee at UT Pan American in nearby Edinburg, said the storm knocked out several windows in his home sending broken glass throughout the house. “Once the hail finally stopped, everything outside was white with a strange mist coming off the ground which made it hard to see,” Shropshire said. “We are used to hurricanes down here, but this storm just caught everybody off guard.”
Insurance companies have sent catastrophic teams to the area to help with adjusting claims. Auto body shops in McAllen say it might take a month to repair all of the vehicles they are receiving.
Insurance Council of Texas spokesman Mark Hanna urged policyholders in McAllen to determine their damage and report their claims to their agent or insurance company as soon as possible.
Source: Insurance Council of Texas