Jul 072011

The severe hailstorm which struck parts of central Mexico on 15 May 2010 lasted up to 30 minutes in some places. It was a particularly intense storm, with golf ball-sized hailstones up to 5 cm in diameter.

The video below was uploaded to YouTube by . (The commentary is in Spanish).

The storm was caused by the southward movement of a strong cold front, which extended along the east coast of the USA and as far south as the Yucatán Peninsula. The cold front collided with hot air slowly circulating in an anticyclonic system that was stationary over central Mexico. The hot air was forced upwards, cooling to form heavy clouds, with moderate to heavy rainfall, and localized thunderstorms and hailstorms.

Despite the fact that Mexico’s National Meteorological Service had issued a weather forecast earlier that day correctly predicting the probability of severe hailstorms in much of central Mexico, damage from the hailstorms was considerable.

In the state of Puebla, 6,600 ha were affected, centered on the town of San Martín Texmelucan. This area included 500 ha of cornfields which were severely damaged. In addition, about 40,000 fruit trees—mainly apple and peach orchards—were badly hit; some of the 200 growers affected claimed that up to 70% of their trees had been damaged.

In Tlaxcala, more than 900 homes were damaged, as well as 1,500 vehicles and 400 ha of farmland. The worst-hit of the nine municipalities involved was Acuitlapilco, but costly damages were also reported from the municipalities of Totolac, Tlaxco, Panotla, Xaltocan, Hueyotlipan, Tecopilco, Atlangatepec and Muñoz de Domingo Arenas. Several emergency shelters were opened, though most of the people made homeless sought shelter with family or friends.

Climatic hazards, including hurricanes and hailstorms are analyzed in chapters 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy reference guide available whenever you need it.

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