A severe thunderstorm pelted parts of Havelock with hail and high winds on Monday, damaging dozens of homes and vehicles.
No injuries were reported.
One of the hardest hit areas was Hills Mobile Home Village and Apartments on N.C. 101 just outside Havelock.
“I thought it was a tornado,” resident Stephanie Aleman said of the storm. “It was a relentless pounding.”
The storm moved into the area shortly before 6 p.m.
“We knew it was coming,” resident Richard Dettman said.
But nothing could prepare residents for the storm that produced hail they described as the size of golf balls and baseballs.
“I put 18 months in in Vietnam and I never heard anything that bad,” Dettman said. “I wasn’t out in the jungle, but I never heard anything that bad.”
Dettman had two vehicles damaged and three windows broken at his home.
“I’ll find out what the insurance companies will do for me,” he said. “In the state of North Carolina, it probably won’t do much.”
After the storm cleared, residents were left to pick up broken pieces of glass in their homes and vehicles.
Ray Beasley, who does maintenance at the complex, estimated the storm broke out at least 40 windows.
“You never know what the Lord will give you,” he said as he covered broken windows with tape.
Aleman said that she took shelter in her bathroom as the storm hit.
“I got in the tub and covered myself with a blanket,” she said. “Thank God, I usually have my grandson with me.”
Joseph Snow said he was listening to music when something louder got his attention.
“I heard this pounding on the roof,” he said. “It was hail, hail the size of golf balls and baseballs.”
DeQues Capers had two windows broken out at his home.
“I’m used to little hail, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said as he helped neighbors tape up broken windows. “It’s messed up bad, all the way around the place.”
Jeremy Denman, a resident who runs Southern Remodeling, was also helping residents tape up windows. He was driving home when the storm blew through.
“I told my wife to get in the tub,” said Denman, whose home had three windows and a storm door broken during the storm. “It was bad.”
Jessica Jones stood outside her damaged home looking at her Honda Pilot, dented on the hood, roof and driver’s side from the hail.
“I bought it new,” she said. “When I go to the grocery store, I don’t park it near anything. I don’t want it to get dented. Now look at it.”
She said the storm scared her as it came through.
“I had been in New Bern,” she said. “I wished I had stayed longer.”
The thunderstorm produced 1.35 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service office in Newport. A peak wind gust of 64 mph was reported with the storm. By comparison, the strongest wind recorded in the Havelock area during Hurricane Arthur earlier this month was 62 mph.
Bel Melandez, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the storm was unique to the area.
“Several of my coworkers here said that they had not seen hail that large near the coast,” she said.
She said a strong updraft of winds sends water higher into the cooler layers of the atmosphere, forming ice crystals. She said those ice crystals move up and down within a storm with the wind, adding more ice until the weight of the ice can’t be supported by the updraft, producing hail that falls to the ground.
“It’s like those lottery machines, is the best way I can describe it,” she said. “The balls go up and down and it just compiles layers and layers of ice until they fall.”
The storm formed from a strong cold front moving into moist and warm air. The front is pushing off the coast and should produce much calmer weather with relatively cool and drier air for this time of the summer. High temperatures through Friday are expected to be in the middle 80s with low temperatures in the middle and upper 60s.
“We’ve got beautiful weather coming along,” Melandez said.