THE Year 2020 has been a crazy one and it got even stranger on Tuesday afternoon as residents in central Trinidad witnessed the rare sight of hail falling in the tropics.
The Meteorological Office confirmed the reports although it had no photographic evidence to back up this strange phenomenon, as the small ice particles melted before pictures could be taken.
Meteorologist Jean-March Rampersad said it is quite possible hail would have been observed in the Carlsen Field area in Central Trinidad between 2.45 and 3.15 pm, based on the conditions experienced in the day.
“We had some rare sightings today, quite a few different things happening, from intense thunderstorms, thunder and lightning, a funnel cloud, reports of hail, damaging gusty winds which tore off roofs in central Trinidad as well as in Las Lomas and St Helena.”
“We did get a video of the funnel cloud, so I can 100 per cent confirm that. But the hail: based on reports we got, the hail size was a bit small so it melted before photos could be taken.”
While he said it was uncommon to see hail in Trinidad, throughout history, there have been reports of people witnessing the phenomenon.
Several people took to Facebook to name places in the country and the years they witnessed the extraordinary event.
According to Wikipedia, “Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It is distinct from ice pellets, though the two are often confused. It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. Ice pellets fall generally in cold weather while hail growth is greatly inhibited during cold surface temperatures.”
Rampersad noted that, “For TT, hail falling is a rare occasion but not impossible. (It is) usually observed during intense thunder activity like we had today.”
Whether TT will witness another hailstorm, as for the next three days he has forecast the country will go from medium to high chances of afternoon thunderstorms, he said this is not easy to predict.
“It is possible we can see one or two, or maybe a funnel cloud or even a waterspout, which usually occurs out in the Gulf of Paria."
Funnel clouds, Rampersad explained, are early signs of a tornado forming.
“The difference between the funnel cloud and the tornado is that the funnel cloud is just the top portion beginning to form. The tornado is when it actually connects to the ground.”