Hail Storms Are No Fun
This past Saturday night I was traveling down Toll 49, just west of Tyler, TX, when I ran into a severe thunderstorm that was unlike any I had experienced before.
I've lived in Texas all my life, I'm used to severe thunderstorms and have relayed hundreds of severe thunderstorm warnings throughout my career on the radio. All the ones I've been through though have been mainly a heavy rain event with wind. However, the storm I encountered Saturday night while traveling Toll 49 near Tyler, TX was one I had never encountered before. I was aware of a line of storms moving in from the west, but was unaware of a rogue storm that formed to the west of Lake Palestine that moved northeast.
There was lightning all around and all of sudden there it was a wall of rain and then the hail, relentless hail. We drove straight into it and there was no getting out of the way. Driving through the hail stones was crazy. I was trying to make it to Highway 31 to one of the underpasses, but wasn't able to because traffic was stopped at another overpass on Toll 49. Lucky for us there was room on our side of the road to get on the shoulder and get out of harms way as much as we could. The hail was bouncing all over the place and still hitting the car as if we weren't under a bridge!
When you're in a situation like that, there's nothing you can really do. It'll just happen. As it was happening I noticed the temperature dropped 15 degrees and then all of a sudden the fog rolled in, it was really weird. We sat there for nearly ten minutes while it hailed and rained. When we were able to start driving again it was like driving on ice cubes! The road was just covered with hail and less than a quarter mile down the road - NOTHING! Hind sight is always 20/20, but had I kept driving to get under the Hwy. 31 bridge, I wouldn't have sat through that mess. But then again I wouldn't have this story to tell.
My friend who was following us though didn't fare so well. She stopped about a quarter mile back and could not see the road to meet up with us under the bridge we were under. She sat there on the side of Toll 49 totally exposed to every single hail stone that fell from the sky and now her car shows it.
Lesson here, when a severe thunderstorm warning is issued for a county or specific area, it is issued for a reason and isn't to be taken lightly.