Monday, September 26

The day after the hail storm in La Bisbal: “They looked like bombs exploding against the roof”

It is not a normal day in La Bisbal d’Empordà (Girona). The residents of the town have been making arrangements with insurance, experts and others all morning due to the consequences of the hail storm that occurred late on Tuesday afternoon and that has ended the life of a 20-month-old girl . In addition, 67 people have had to be treated for injuries of various kinds and one woman is still hospitalized.

Cars, crystals, goods from different shops… The ice stones that fell from the sky reached a record in the records, up to 11 centimeters in diameter and the damage caused in just fifteen minutes will take several days – or weeks – to fix. “Right now there is quite a bit of chaos: tow trucks taking away cars, saturated services and many people trying to solve everything that caused the hail,” says Arnau, who was returning from the beach by car at the time of the storm. “Stones were already falling from the sky on the road, but when we got to La Bisbal we saw that the ice balls were the size of an apple or even larger,” says this local resident. As they entered the municipality they saw more destroyed cars, sagging cornices or broken roofs. One of his cars is “completely dented” and has a “broken” rear window. “In our house, in addition, a skylight has broken and the roof tiles have broken, something that has also happened to many neighbors,” he laments.

“They looked like bombs when they exploded against the roof,” says Marce, a worker at Cerámicas Bosch, about the hail. She has been trying all morning to move the affected parts to a safer part of the store. The oldest part of the roof is made of corrugated iron and today it “looks like cheese” due to the holes caused by the ice balls. When the impacts began, several plates came loose and fell on top of the ceramic pieces and Marce and her partner ran to take cover under the counter. “Now, the problem is if it rains, because more plates can come loose and spoil more products,” she says.

“It was brutal”, agrees Loli, who works at the Tasmanian Sea Hotel, and who assures that she had not seen something like this in her more than 50 years of life. “There was a lot of panic,” she recounts. Her car has also suffered damage, but she downplays it: “The material and the cars are not a problem because sooner or later they can be fixed, the bad thing is when it affects people, like the child that has died. The human damage could have been much worse.”

Historical record in Catalonia

Storms and hail at the end of summer in Catalonia are common. But the unusual thing about the rainfall in La Bisbal has been the size of the ice stones, which has broken the historical record in the community. “It has reached 11 centimeters, a measurement that has not been collected since we have records. The precedent is 7 centimeters in diameter”, explains to Santi Segalà, head of Prediction of Meteocat, where they have been warning of storms for two weeks although without foreseeing these balls of hail.

The size of the ice, he says, is the result of “several ingredients”: a summer with high temperatures throughout Europe, an increase in the temperature of the sea water of up to three degrees above the average and “a disturbance that generated a little cold air and fed this storm cloud from the south of France that reached the height of 17 kilometers, which is outrageous ”.

Although MeteoCat cannot conclude that this storm was a consequence of climate change, it does fit with what some reports indicate about it. “Climate change means that hot periods are becoming more intense and more frequent, that there are more and more accumulated droughts and for longer periods of time, and that there are more and more extreme weather events,” he warns.

“We will see how the insurers respond now, but we are considering requesting the declaration of a catastrophic area”, the mayor of La Bisbal, Carme Vall Clara, detailed this Wednesday morning. In the capital of Baix Empordà “we are still assuming the extent of the damage”, details the mayor, who points out that among the damaged buildings is the town hall itself, where the skylight was broken in several places and a colored window was left with holes. The Ceramic Museum, the Treasury office and the Primary Care Center (CAP) have also been damaged, buildings where several windows were broken, as well as many other residential buildings in the municipality.

In the press conference together with the mayor and the Minister of the Presidency Laura Vilagrà, the vice president of the Generalitat, Jordi Puigneró, explained that the effects of the hailstorm are being evaluated in order to put in place the mechanisms to repair them. “Climate change is not a joke, it is everyone’s responsibility,” he warned.

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