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Hailstorm leaves damage behind in Highlands County

Highlands hail.jpg
Animated Gif of Hail falling from Laura Ortegon
Posted at 8:30 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 22:01:50-04

Damage is being reported across multiple parts of Highlands County after a thunderstorm that dropped large hail in the area. It was a dramatic scene just before 7 p.m. Monday, golf ball sized hail plummeting down.

“Like oh my God. I've never seen anything like this before in my life. It was like hurricane intensity and we were just staring at our car, hoping and praying the windshield didn’t break,” said Nicole Orellana.

Her two vehicles bore the brunt of the storm, hail creating dents all over one vehicle, shattering its grill and cracking the windshield of another. Tuesday morning, Orellana was cleaning up her yard, throwing out her children’s toys that were destroyed. Her three kids were outside playing right before the storm hit.

"I'm glad they came in when they did, because they could've been hurt. One of them was three, so he's a little one. They all made it in safe, freaked out but safe,” Orellana said.

Hail amazingly missed Orellana's home, but her neighbors weren’t as lucky. Home after home on Glacier Avenue in Avon Park hit with hail, resembling damage from a shotgun.

"I've never seen anything like this in 30 years in the Tampa Bay Area," ABC Action News Chief Meteorologist Denis Phillips said.

According to the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners, damage has been reported from Venus to Avon Park as well as in Sebring.

“Bigger than a golf ball but not as big as a baseball,” Sundee Dickerson described the size of hail coming down on her home.

Sundee Dickerson was home with her husband and daughter Monday night and didn’t know a storm was coming.

“I thought it was as tornado just because of the way it was coming through. It just got worse. Next thing I know the windows were blown out,” said Dickerson.

Two windows of her home smashed in, now replaced with plywood. The holes on the house, too many to count and the screen ripped open. Dickerson who moved to Avon Park from Indiana, didn’t think a hailstorm of this magnitude could happen here. “It was a real shocker to see hail that size because I’ve never even seen hail that size up north. Usually, its pea size maybe even a quarter,” she said.

The boat under her shed remained untouched but all three cars in the driveway were beat pretty bad. Damage to her Toyota is intense. The back window completely shattered, from the roof to the side, riddled with holes. It didn’t stop there; hail took its wrath out on the wheel cover too.

It’s not clear yet how many homes in the area have hail damage. What is clear is that the storm left a mess that will take a few days to clean up.

“It’s an act of nature, it is what it is. You pay for it, you fix it and you move on,” Dickerson said.

You can report damage in your area HERE.