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Parker, Palo Pinto counties report worst hail damage

A sustained pounding of hail, some chunks as big as softballs, hit Parker and Palo Pinto counties Thursday night, leaving a path of damaged cars and downed tree limbs from Mineral Wells to Hudson Oaks, officials said.

Western Tarrant County also saw hail Thursday night, but Parker County was hit especially hard as big chunks of ice spawned by a super cell storm peppered property for nearly 30 minutes.

"That was probably one of the longest hail storms we have ever been through," said Shawn Scott, the county's emergency management coordinator. "It went right through the middle of the county.

"The ground looked like snow; it should've been February."

The north side of Mineral Wells also was hammered, law enforcement officials said.

Police Capt. Mike McAllester said he saw some hail as large as softballs, but most of it was the size of golf balls and tennis balls.

"We talked to several people today whose windshields were knocked out, so it was pretty traumatic for a while," McAllester said. "It was mainly broken windshields, tree limbs, downed power lines and roof damage.

"The car dealers took a beating. They have four here and all sustained some damage."

Car dealers in Weatherford also had hail damage, officials said.

But the hail damage didn’t stop car buyers from flocking to Jerry’s GM on the eastern edge of Weatherford Friday to get vehicles at a reduced price.

Andrew Anderson, the dealership’s general manager said 15 cars already were sold on Friday.

"We’ve had a pretty good Friday," he said.

"It’s a mess, but these are the cards we’ve been dealt," he said.

The wind-blown golf ball-size hail caused significant damage, including blowing out the shop doors on one building, flooding the Chevrolet show room and damaging vehicles that were outside.

Anderson said insurance adjusters are en route to provide damage estimates.

"It was a pretty good storm; there was still golf ball-size hail in some of the tents at noon.”

While cars were damaged, the Parker County peach crop escaped the wrath of the hail.

Gary Hutton, an owner of Hutton’s Fruit Farm in Parker County, said the fruit was not damaged and will be ready for the upcoming Parker County Peach festival in July.

The storm, which developed around 7 p.m., also dumped .83 inches of rain in Weatherford and 1.40 inches at Meacham International Airport in Fort Worth, said Nick Hampshire, a weather service meteorologist. DFW Airport, he added, got .97 inches.

The first night of the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival in downtown Fort Worth was cut short and high water was reported at several locations in the city. The festival is expected to have a good run, nevertheless, as sunny weather and temperatures near 80 highlight the weekend.

About 27,000 power outages across the Metroplex resulted from the storm, said Megan Wright, spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery. That number had been cut 3,500 by 11:30 a.m. Friday, Wright said.

Scott said his crews traveled throughout Parker County overnight, searching for evidence of a tornadoes. A funnel cloud was reported near Aledo, but it left no obvious evidence, Scott said. Hail, he said, was the big story from overnight.

The worst reports of it were in Weatherford and Mineral Wells, meteorologist Hampshire said.

"Western Tarrant County got hit, but not as hard. Once it got to (Interstate) 35, it lost its intense strength," he said. "We still had large hail further east, but nothing like baseballs."

Weather service forecasters expected severe weather would kick up Thursday evening ahead of a slow cold front that finally lumbered into North Texas a few hours earlier.

But, Hampshire said, another ingredient conspired to produce the damaging hail.

"We had a rather strong upper-level disturbance and it moved over the region pretty much the same time as the cold front," Hampshire said. "The air associated with the disturbance was really cold above the surface and that's when you get hail growth to maximize.

"So, those two things came together on Thursday."

Hail had melted by sunup Friday, leaving dented cars and downed tree limbs as proof of trouble overnight.

"There's a lot of cars in town right now that look like they're camouflaged with all the leaves on them," Scott said.

Staff Writer Elizabeth Campbell contributed to this report.