Friday’s hailstorm affects local business

While most people in Shelby County found shelter inside during Friday’s hailstorm, the workers at Edwards Chevrolet couldn’t do anything about the dozens of vehicles left outside.

The dealership, located across from the Village at Lee Branch on U.S. Highway 280, was one of the unlucky locations that saw golf-ball-sized hail.

Manager Marty Phillips said he saw hail as large as an inch and a quarter across. The hail left damage on 95 percent of the vehicles on sale, he said.

“That means basically that we’re going to have to discount them and make them go away,” he said. “Our loss is the customer’s gain.”

The damage to most of the cars is slight enough that they could be bought and driven off the lot as-is, Phillips said. Customers that buy the worse-off cars could elect to use their savings to fix the damage. Discounts will vary by car, depending on how severe the damage is.

“Sometimes the dents are so small, you have to have a fairly trained eye to see them,” he said.

The hail came suddenly at around 4 p.m. Friday with almost no warning.

“We saw some little small ones that were pebble-sized. It sounded like someone shooting a shotgun, like birdshot,” Phillips said. “The second time around, you could tell it was serious. We looked out and they were accumulating on the ground. You could see they were really big.”

Phillips said such a situation has never occurred at the Highway 280 location, which has been open about two years.

Meteorologist Tara Golden, with the National Weather Service, said there were many Friday reports of hail around Highway 280. Penny-size hail was observed near Inverness Parkway, while nickel-sized hail was reported near Valleydale Road and Oak Mountain Road. Some of the worst occurrences, with golf-ball sized hail, happened near the Southern Pines and Meadowbrook subdivisions in Inverness and near the Liberty Church in Chelsea on Highway 47.

Golden said most of the hail reported on Friday occurred between 3:45 and 4:15 p.m.

While hail can be worrying for those who have to leave their vehicles outside, Golden said that most of the time, vehicles won’t be harmed.

“If it’s smaller than quarter-size hail, then odds are it’s not really going to damage your vehicle,” she said.