Hail As Big As Baseballs Pounds North Texas; Wylie ISD Schools Closed Tuesday | KERA News

Hail As Big As Baseballs Pounds North Texas; Wylie ISD Schools Closed Tuesday

Apr 12, 2016

The Wylie Independent School District called off school on Tuesday – a day after hail the size of baseballs broke windows and caused other building damage.




Update: Students in Wylie will have to return to school on Wednesday, a day after the district canceled classes because of hail damage in some schools. 

On Tuesday, some couldn't stay away from school. Dodd Elementary opened its doors and turned its parking lot into a playground. Several dozen kids rode their bikes and scooters while others raked leaves and picked up debris from Monday night's storm.

Norah Bale, age 12 and in the seventh grade, said she was doing her part.

"We're watching the little kids ride their bikes and play chalk while we're cleaning up the glass on the floor," she said.

Norah said she was at her mom's house when the storm hit.

"My sister was doing homework and the glass broke on her, and I carried my cat to the bathroom."

Her sister and the cat are ok, but many homes, cars and some schools were not.

"The majority have just a window or two broken here or there, maybe a light out ... glass in the parking lot, maybe in the walkways," said District Spokesman Ian Halperin.

Three of the district's 19 schools though were hit pretty hard, including Akin Elementary.

They lost some windows in the breezeway that's between two different floors and there's a lot of glass and water damage," Halperin said. "What we think happened is the hail possibly blocked the downspout and so water pooled on some of our buildings, which caused it to leak."

Halperin said parents offered to take food to teachers and other staff helping clean up the mess. 

Down the street from Dodd Elementary, in the Riverchase neighborhood, an insurance adjustor walked door to door assessing the property damage.

Martin Guerra came home from a trip to find the hail had smashed his car windows and damaged the roof of his house.

"It was pretty loud, pretty quick and, obviously, the hail was much bigger than we thought it was gonna be," said Guerra. "Lot more damage than three weeks ago. We had some hail three weeks ago and it's definitely worse than that."

Guerra's neighbor, Kelsey McAlister, said she was home watching a movie when the hail started falling.

"All of a sudden the glass cracked and then it all started shattering through, so we went and got boards and boxes for it and we're like holding them up trying to get glass not to fly around," McAlister said. "It was pretty crazy. It was pretty crazy. Shards of glass everywhere."

Original Post: A district statement said educators were not able to provide a safe learning environment Tuesday due to "significant" storm damage.

No damage estimate was immediately available following storms late Monday that hit Wylie, which has more than 14,000 students on 19 campuses.

The Collin County Sheriff's Office had no reports of anyone hurt in Wylie.

City spokesman Craig Kelly said hail as large as baseballs damaged the public safety building, but emergency personnel were able to continue their duties Tuesday. Kelly said damage to windows and roofs was being assessed.

Storm damage calls overwhelmed Wylie's 911 system Monday night. But Wylie officials said Tuesday morning that fire protection and 911 communications are ongoing without interruption. The Public Safety Building on Highway 78 is closed due to hail damage. Non-emergency functions, including courts, records and fire and police administration, have been suspended as they relocate. The senior recreation center is also closed.

North Texans spent Tuesday cleaning up the mess left behind from the storms. Residents across the region -- from Montague County to Collin and Rockwall counties -- reported broken windows and damaged roofs.

This was just the latest in a string of hail storms to hit North Texas this spring.

Mark Fox with the National Weather Service said the number of hail reports has increased in recent years. 

“From the last couple of years, 2007 to 2015, through the end of April, we’ve averaged about 157 reports of large hail,” he says. “So far this year, we’ve had 188 reports of large hail.”

Fox says one reason for the uptick may be a short winter season.

“We started in early March. By the time we’ve come around, we’ve had some big hail storms this year and that just added to it yesterday," Fox says. "The bluebonnets were early – so were the hailstorms.”

Wylie Fire Rescue shot this video Monday night: