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Kane County pelted by large hail in storm

Maple Park resident Jessica Cox sent in this photo of hail that fell in her driveway on Tuesday night.
Maple Park resident Jessica Cox sent in this photo of hail that fell in her driveway on Tuesday night.

Large hail, with some hailstones reportedly as large as tennis balls, fell Tuesday night in portions of the Kane County area. And although there were no reports of tornados, there were reports of damage to vehicles and structures in the area.

In Elburn, tornado sirens were sounded minutes before the storm. Village President Dave Anderson said it was because of the hail and trying to keep people safe.

He said Tri-Com Central Dispatch keeps local police departments up to date on such issues, and then it’s up to local police to decide whether to sound the alarm. Anderson said it wasn’t necessary for a tornado to be seen before sounding the alarm.

“It was done right, that they set them off,” Anderson said. “There was damaging hail.”

Some of the largest hail in the area was reported in Sugar Grove, and some in Elburn reported seeing very large hail. Sirens did not sound in Sugar Grove.

Elburn-based storm chaser Brad Hruza said he spent much of the night in the Maple Park area, but he arrived home and encountered the hail. He said he saw some golf-ball-sized hail. He questioned the village’s sounding of the sirens, calling it unnecessary. He said neighbors were asking him why the sirens were going off.

Dave Gualdoni, a member of the Elburn Village Board who works closely with the Elburn Community Response Team, said the village’s policy calls for the alarm to be sounded any time winds exceed 70 mph or there is golf ball-sized hail.

“Those events can do as much damage as a tornado,” Gualdoni said.

St. Charles-based storm chaser Lorraine Mahoney said hail was the main threat of the storm, along with high wind. She said “there was little tornado threat, due to the lack of sufficient low-level shear.”

In Sugar Grove, Village President Sean Michels said officials were at a Village Board meeting when the storm hit. He said they heard the hail as it pelted the municipal center, and he said some board members had dents in the hoods of their vehicles. He said he didn’t hear of extensive damage. Anderson said he heard of reports of vehicle damage in Elburn.

Emma Florian, who farms at Forest Gate Farm in Blackberry Township, said she and her husband had brought their horses into a barn after noticing storm clouds. Minutes later, she said the hail started falling and “it sounded like rocks hitting the roof.”

“Gradually, the hail got bigger and bigger until it seemed like golf balls were coming out of the sky,” Florian said. “Some were even bigger.”

She said there was hail damage to cars at the farm, and the hail punched holes through sky lights at the barn.

“I’ve seen hail before, but I’ve never seen hail this big or this violent,” she said.

Quarter-sized hail fell at Kuipers Family Farm in Maple Park. On the farm’s Facebook page, there were photos posted, along with a note that the hail and high winds “could be bad news for the apple crop.”

Wade Kuipers, the president and owner, said that sentiment changed after he was able to check out the area on Wednesday.

“I think everything is going to be fine,” Kuipers said.

The concern, he said, was that the hail could have knocked buds off some plants, affecting the pollination process. Also, he said the farm had done some spraying to protect plants from a feared disease. He said that hail is feared by apple growers as a real threat. He said it would be like a person standing outside and getting hit by sharp stones. At first, he feared the worst. But after a closer look, he isn’t nearly so worried.

“We’re all good,” he said.

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