July hailstorm ravages local area

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By Carol A. Clark

Monday’s massive hailstorm pounded the county for some 45 minutes leaving thousands of dented vehicles, cracked windshields and smashed gardens in its wrath.

Leaves torn from trees by the fierce velocity of millions of hailstones, some larger than a golf ball, blanketed yards, sidewalks, vehicles and rooftops.

KOAT Channel 7 TV arrived on the scene to report on the aftermath of the storm. News Reporter Dominic Garcia conducted a live report standing in front of a large pile of hail on Myrtle Street.

Meteorologist Scot Johnson of Los Alamos National Laboratory discussed the massive hailstorm during a late afternoon interview Monday.

 “Summer hailstorms are actually quite common,” Johnson said. “This was a localized cell and the hailstones ranged in size from a dime to a quarter with some even larger.”

The reason for the variation in size, he explained, is that precipitation gets caught in an updraft and can be pulled as high up as 20,000 feet. The same precipitation can make several loops into the freezing altitude and each loop adds another layer of ice, which can enlarge the diameter of the hailstone significantly.

Emergency dispatchers did not receive any calls reporting vehicle accidents or personal injuries during the storm, Los Alamos Police Capt. Randy Foster said.

Foster spoke of the hail damage inflicted on many of the cars parked in the police department parking lot.

“Several police and non-police vehicles were dented from the hail and a couple had cracked windshields,” he said.

Insurance companies were overwhelmed with calls and in-person visits by customers seeking to file claims.

Customer Service Representative Bernadette Naranjo of Farmers Insurance Group, Ziegler Insurance Agency, held up a phone log of her Monday afternoon claims and the log continued for several pages.

Lou Santaro of Lou Santaro’s State Farm Insurance Agency on 15th Street said Monday evening that his agency is setting up a catastrophic site within 24 hours to assess claims for his customers.

“Our catastrophic team will arrive in town tomorrow and we will begin calling all of our customers who have contacted us about vehicle damage from the storm,” Santaro said. “We’ll arrange appointments for our customers to bring their vehicles to our claims adjusters at the catastrophic site or we’ll arrange to send an adjuster to their homes.”

Santaro’s agency also was inundated with claims calls Monday afternoon following the massive hailstorm. His lobby was full of customers seeking to file vehicle damage claims as well.

Santaro customers who experienced hail damage should contact the agency; others should call their insurance company to report their damage.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.