Home > Famines and Crop Destruction, Natural Disasters > California: Hailstorms, Lightning and Tornadoes Hammer San Joaquin Valley Crops

California: Hailstorms, Lightning and Tornadoes Hammer San Joaquin Valley Crops


By Steve Adler – “A series of freak April storms hammered the San Joaquin Valley last week, damaging vulnerable crops with a one-two-three punch of hail, lightning and tornados that caused millions of dollars of crop losses.

It will be several weeks before an accurate tabulation of losses can be made, but for some growers it amounted to 100 percent of this year’s production. A number of crops suffered damage from the unrelenting power of hailstones measuring 1.5 inches in diameter or larger.

Nature’s fury came in the form of ‘supercells’—large thunderstorms that moved slowly across the valley from Kings County, through parts of Tulare County, up to Merced County and all the way eastward to Mariposa County.

The most destructive storm brought torrents of hail across a six-to-eight mile-wide swath of farmland that extended some 30 miles, accompanied by thunderstorms and numerous lightning strikes.

The epicenter of the more significant of two supercells last Wednesday was in Tulare County near Traver. Grower Ed Needham, who was caught driving near Traver when the storm struck, described it as ‘the sound of someone hitting my truck with a hammer.’

Needham said he was in his truck with two other farmers and had pulled over to watch a huge storm cell to the south when the other cell struck from the north.

‘It started out small and was no big deal and then all of a sudden the side-view mirrors on my truck shattered and the road started getting covered with huge hailstones.'” Read more.

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