A localised hail storm that hit a small village in the north east of France caused “extensive damage” and left two injured yesterday evening (August 24).
The flash storm lasted less than 15 minutes, but saw hail of up to 5cm in diameter fall in the village. Witnesses described some hailstones as being “the size of an egg”.
It caused “very significant damage to vehicles and roofs” as well as injury to two people who were outside at the time, said Haute-Marne’s prefect Régine Pam, who visited the village of Arc-en-Barrois in the evening.
The entire Haute-Marne department is facing tier-three orange warnings today for stormy conditions, which were already in place yesterday when the hailstorm occurred.
Two injured by hail
Both of those injured were outside when the storm took place.
One woman was “hit by a hailstone and knocked unconscious,” according to the prefect, but suffered only minor injuries.
The second was a man in his fifties who was said to be trying to secure his roof at the end of the storm [and] fell.
He was rushed to the nearby Chaumont hospital in an emergency by firefighters, but his condition is not said to be “life-threatening.”
Hailstones ‘the size of eggs’
Social media was awash with posts showing the size of the hailstones and the damage caused by them.
This is a video of the hail falling in a field during the storm:
⛈ Les orages qui circulent au nord-est donnent parfois des grêlons atteignant 3 à 5 cm ! Images d'Arc-en-Barrois en Haute-Marne où des dégâts sont signalés. (© Sandrine Cousin Steib) pic.twitter.com/lR3djkEi18— Météo Express (@MeteoExpress) August 24, 2023
The owner of a 1.3 hectare plot of greenhouses nearby said the hailstones were “the size of eggs.” A number of greenhouses were destroyed during the storm.
Quel tristesse de voir l'état des serres de La Cagette haut-marnaise réduites en morceaux de verre après le violentissime orage de grêlons cet après-midi sur notre canton. On pense à leurs jeunes propriétaires éplorés (photo Barbara Algan pour FR3) https://t.co/q8fkgw6Oft pic.twitter.com/VKCvbM9pUb— Arc-en-Barrois, Haute-Marne (@arcenbarrois) August 24, 2023
Orage de grêle d'une intensité importante à Arc-en-Barrois avec de nombreux dégâts— Préfet de la Haute-Marne (@Prefet52) August 24, 2023
R PAM @Prefet52, sur place au coté du maire, salue la mise en place rapide d'une coordination des services de secours et des forces de sécurité@Interieur_Gouv @PrefetZoneEst pic.twitter.com/GNuGVPeGKW
A number of residents in the village also took photos of fallen hailstones after the storm.
⚡ Photo impressionnante des grêlons qui ont frappé Arc-en-Barrois en Haute-Marne ce jeudi après-midi. Dégâts notables signalés sur la commune. (© Christine Lardenois) pic.twitter.com/8lMOt4REnc— Météo Express (@MeteoExpress) August 24, 2023
‘Damage could worsen from rain’
Damage to the homes in the village was still being assessed on Thursday evening, with “holes of 5cm to 10cm” in some roofs, according to the prefect.
Intervention ce soir à Arc en Barrois des pompiers pour retirer les tuiles cassées risquant de tomber sur les passants. Un grand merci à nouveau aux pompiers d'Arc en Barrois et de Chaumont ! @sdis52 https://t.co/RXuYVrbXrl pic.twitter.com/W1T9x4TdH3— Arc-en-Barrois, Haute-Marne (@arcenbarrois) August 24, 2023
Residents could face further struggle if another storm with heavy rain hits the village on Friday, the prefect warned.