Why it all came crashing down

Mar. 23—Adans are only now beginning to pick up the pieces...pieces of roofs, windshields, fences, and more, from last week's damaging hailstorm.

Pontotoc County Emergency Management Director Chad Letellier said it may be months before the total cost of the event can be tallied, but could end up in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Letellier said one hailstone measured five and a half inches, the largest ever recorded in Pontotoc County.

"It was really a unique storm from a meteorological perspective," National Weather Service Meteorologist Max Ungar said Thursday. "The background environment was very favorable for large hail. We had a lot of instability in the southeast Oklahoma, south-central Oklahoma area. Not only that, but we had a bunch of deep-layer wind shear, which favors large hail production."

Ungar said that conversely, the environment also exhibited weak wind shear at the lowest levels.

"Some of the latest research is showing that for very large hail production, you need weaker wind shear in the lower levels," Ungar added. "We also had very steep lapse rates, which is the change in temperature with vertical height in the atmosphere. So there was drastic cooling aloft, so those factors really set the stage for large to very large hail production."

Among the hardest hit were local car dealers.

Chase Yott, General Manager of Hilltop Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, said their dealership had 110 vehicles seriously damaged.

"Each vehicle's damage was different," he said. "(It could be) anywhere from $5000 to $18,000 a vehicle. It's bad. We took major damage."

He estimated total damage at his dealership could exceed one million dollars.

Brandon Mclellan, Executive Manager at Ada Nissan said, "We had 170 cars here. Our insurance adjusters are here today."

Mclellan said every car on their lot was seriously damaged.

"We had over 130 vehicles missing glass," he added, "windshields, sunroofs, back glass. It is a nightmare."

Fenton Ford of Ada, just a mile east of Ada Nissan, was more fortunate.

"I think we fared a little bit better than the other dealerships in town," General Manager Brian Smith said. "But we have had the adjustors through, everything's looking good. It was a very interesting hail storm. When it got to us, believe it or not, we had some cars out here that didn't even get touched."

Numerous area residents said they experienced vehicle damage and damage to their homes. Area roofers were responding to calls nonstop.

"We've been inundated with calls for roof inspections," Tyler Mackey of Mackey Roofing said Thursday. "Not every house that we've been on had damage, the vast majority of the ones on the northern and western sides of town are the ones we are seeing the most damage on. Not everybody that got hail actually has damage. We are doing roof inspections all over town and all over the county. It's just going to take us a little bit to get to everybody."