Holy hail! Severe storms tear through Alle-Kiski Valley
A strong thunderstorm dropped large hailstones — some as big as 2 inches — over New Kensington and nearby areas on Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
The storm started south of Russellton in West Deer and, as of around 1:30 p.m., was dissipating over Saltsburg in Indiana County, said John Darnley, a meteorologist with the weather service.
New Kensington was the heaviest-hit area, with hailstones from 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
Springdale, the North Washington section of Washington Township and Apollo also experienced hail — mostly smaller, dime-sized chunks of ice, Darnley said.
"This time of year we expect this kind of behavior in the atmosphere," he said.
Frank Ross of Ross Auto Body in New Kensington, said this is the first time he can remember hail like that pelting the city.
"I can't remember ever having a hailstorm like this," he said. "It was coming down and it looked like marbles. It just kept getting bigger and stronger."
Ross said the phones at his shop were ringing off the hook since the hail fell, as more people stepped outside to find their vehicles damaged in the sudden storm.
The upside, according to Ross, is that most insurance policies will cover hail damage to cars.
Mark Suber of New Kensington said he's seen hail like this before, but never in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
"It was crazy," he said. "Just as soon as it started it was over, and the hail melted away just like that."
Tom Strellec of Advantage Auto Sales said his crews were watching nervously as the ice fell on their fleet of cars waiting to be sold.
"No doubt there was a lot of hail coming down, for sure," he said. "But we checked it out and there was no damage.
"At that point it came so quickly, what could we have done anyway? It was definitely a concern though — I have some 2015s, 2016s out there. (It)could have been a huge insurance claim."
The hail fell for about 10 minutes but melted quickly on an otherwise warm day.
Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675 or email@example.com.