By Alex Zepeda
After a long night of pounding rain and wind, George Callado, a 20-year-old psychology major woke up Tuesday morning on Feb. 19 to an abnormally cold room. He could see his breath, but thought nothing of it as he turned on his space heater and began his morning ritual.
As he was changing, he realized that the rain sounded harder than normal and he decided to have a look outside his window.
To the San Diego native, it was amazing what he saw: a layer of frost covering his roof and back yard, with a constant slew of tiny ice crystals pelting everything else in sight.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Callado said. “I thought it was snowing!”
For the first time this year, Humboldt County experienced a hailstorm that resulted in snowfall in some areas.
Cecelia Reeves, local meteorologist for News Channel 3, Eureka, explained what caused the hailstorm to form.
“The arrival of a cold front which brought with it the prolonged rain, and also an unstable atmosphere,” Reeves said. “The instability allowed for some storms to have enough uplift to bring water droplets into the highest part of the cloud where they became ice, which fell as hail. The snow was caused by the same cold front that came through which quickly cooled the temperatures in the higher elevations to allow snow to fall.”
Callado said he told his roommate to look outside the window to see it snowing, but was saddened when his roommate told him the truth about the weather.
“My roommate from Alaska told me that this isn’t actual snow,” Callado said. “It’s only a thick layer of hail and possibly sleet. Real snow is much fluffier.”
The hail only lasted a few hours on the ground. By noon it had all melted.
While most enjoyed seeing the frost from the comfort of their own homes, a few unlucky people were caught in the middle of the storm, Andrew Horn, a 19-year-old environmental studies major is one such unfortunate individual.
“I have an 8 o’clock class but I had to be up early that day anyways,” Horn said. “It was sprinkling so I grabbed my rain jacket and set out for campus. I did notice it was colder than normal. On my walk, the rain got stronger and stronger until eventually I was being pelted by ice pellets! I got to campus completely soaked and shivering. It was not fun
Luckily, no deaths occurred due to the extreme weather.
“The only damages reported, that I know of, were from automobile accidents, (due to icy roads from the hail),” Reeves said. “I believe there were only minor injuries, but small hail is one of the leading causes of weather related fatalities here in Humboldt.”
Horn said that despite his rough morning, his day did improve.
“I’m happy that the ice melted quickly and the day got nice though,” Horn said. “It helped me warm up once I got out of class.”
No more hailstorms are expected this week, but Reeves did state to take extra care while driving in wet icy weather.