Hailstones the size of onions wreak havoc in France

The hailstones ranged from the size of golf balls to onions, and caused extensive damage

Storms causing hailstones the size of golf balls and onions have fallen in France this weekend, after forecaster Météo France issued storm alerts.

Reports from the Loire department showed huge hailstones causing havoc after smashing into houses and outdoors objects, and dropping heavily into swimming pools. The episode lasted around 15 minutes.

Roof tiles were smashed and the huge ice stones remained clustered on the ground even after the storm had finished. One resident took a photo of a hailstone next to an onion for scale; they were the same size.

(BFMTV / Twitter / Media Actu / Screenshot)
(Xxxxxaaaavvvvv / @serge_xav / Twitter)

There were 138 calls to emergency services due to problems caused by the storm in the Loire alone.

Orange storm alerts - the second-most severe warning level - were first issued in 23 departments yesterday, with three others maintaining the alert earlier today (Doubs, Haut-Rhin, and the Territoire-de-Belfort; Sunday July 7).

A statement from Météo France read: “The situation of strong summer storms required this alert, which is needed whenever a weather pattern causes a strong risk.”

The alert has now been lifted.

The storms have been linked to the aftermath of the extremely high temperatures during the heatwave in recent weeks.

Now, advice has been issued to residents on how to stay safe during a violent storm, including how to avoid being struck by lightning if the storm causes electric events.

Every year, more than 100 people are injured by lightning in France, with around a dozen of them going on to die from their burns or from a heart attack.

  • Stay away from trees. Your risk of being hit by lightning increases 50 fold if you are under a tree.
  • Get out of any water. If you are swimming, or in a boat, you must get to dry land as quickly as possible. Saltwater especially conducts electricity.
  • Stay indoors, unplug large electrical items, and do not use a fixed line telephone, as they can be affected by power surges.
  • Stay away from chimneys, windows, and shutters
  • If you are hiking, especially on a mountain, try to find shelter in a cave, and stay away from summits
  • If you are outside, avoid any metallic objects, such as golf clubs, garden tools, and even umbrellas

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