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Tennis ball size hailstones batter homes in central and west France

Up to 340 homes and 1,000 cars were damaged and 6,000 lightning strikes recorded in three hours during violent storms last night (May 22)

Parts of France were hit by tennis ball sized hailstones during storms last night (May 22). Photo for illustration Pic: Météo France / jamestorm / Shutterstock

Parts of central and western France were hit by tennis ball size hailstones weighing up to 250g during a storm which also brought 6,000 lightning strikes to Indre and Cher over a three-hour period last night (May 22).

Châteauroux (Indre) was at the centre of the storm but Charente, Charente-Maritime, Vienne and Deux-Sèvres were also affected. 

Châteauroux’s town hall opened up a gymnasium for locals who were unable to stay in their home overnight due to storm damage. One family with four children took up this offer after their house was particularly affected. 

The town’s mayor, Gil Avérous, told France Bleu that up to 340 houses and 1,000 cars were damaged by the hail, with one resident, Martine, saying that she spent the night clearing up her attic after hailstones created holes in her roof. “I have never been so afraid in my life,” she added. 

In all, Indre's fire and rescue service received more than 2,000 calls and went out to 250 incidents in 15 different communes

Some 27mm of rain was recorded in Pruniers (Indre), while in Rosnay, to the west of Châteauroux, the wind reached speeds of 107km/h.

In Ménigoute (Deux-Sèvres), meanwhile, 33mm of rain fell over half an hour and hailstones measuring eight centimetres were found on the ground. 

In Vienne, firefighters were called to 80 different storm-related incidents such as household flooding, roofs penetrated by hailstones and the effects of lightning strikes. Although considerable damage was wrought, no one was hurt.

This morning (May 23), 76 departments across the north, centre, east and west of France remain under yellow storm alerts, although orange warnings imposed last night have now been lifted. 

The yellow alerts will stay in place at least until the early hours of tomorrow morning (May 24), with a short break in the unsettled weather around midnight tonight. 

Further information can be found on the Météo France website. 

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