Weekend storms produce 4-inch hail

It was mere coincidence.

The golf ball-sized hail that thumped parts of Shelby County over the weekend had nothing to do with the fact that professional golfer Hale Irwin was in town.

Severe thunderstorms swept through the area Friday dumping hail and heavy rains on much of the county.

Despite the tornado warning that remained in effect for much of the evening, there was no confirmation of a tornado actually touching the ground, said Meteorologist Brian Peters of the National Weather Service in Calera.

Although Friday’s thunderstorms did produce heavy rotation and strong winds, he said.

County officials reported no major damages, and the Bruno’s Memorial Classic at Greyston Golf and Country Club was only briefly delayed once due to severe weather.

Irwin fell from the lead to tie for a third place finish in the tournament after a dissapointing final round.

The hail that fell from the sky was a little more impressive.

Peters said reports of hail measuring four inches in diameter, among the largest ever reported in Shelby County, came from Maylene.

Additional reports of hail ranging in size from one to three inches in diameter was reported from Helena, Pelham and Alabaster.

&uot;We had a lot of reports of golf-ball-size hail and judging from the reports of car damage there’s no reason not to believe that,&uot; Peters said.

&uot;We also had a number of baseball-size hail reports.&uot;

Hail is formed when a cold atmosphere prevents larger droplets of rain from falling out of thunderstorm clouds allowing them to freeze, Peters said.

Along with the hail came more than an inch of rain over the weekend.

The Shelby County Airport measured 1.17 inches of rainfall from Friday, May 2 to Sunday, May 4.

But it was the high winds, not rain or hail, that struck fear in many Shelby County residents.

&uot;It was scary. There were grown men in here that were scared,&uot; said Shanna McMenamin, a cashier at the Shell station in Pelham, where some 40 people driving on nearby Highway 52 and Interstate 65 pulled over to seek shelter during Friday’s storm.

&uot;That’s the first time I’ve been through weather like that and I don’t care to do it again,&uot; she said.

According to Peters, it may be a while before Shelby County is in the clear.

&uot;The weather pattern is setting up so that we may have severe thunderstorms practicly every day for the rest of the week,&uot; Peters said.

&uot;This is a good time for people to be very vigilant.&uot;

Peters said March, April and May are considered &uot;prime season&uot; for tornados and that people should take severe weather warnings seriously.

&uot;Find a hidey hole, storm shelter or storm cellar,&uot; he said. &uot;We may do this 20 to 30 times, but we need to get people to take the warnings seriously to save lives.&uot;