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Lightning and hail in crazy weather weekend

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 09, 2013

By Adam Walmesley

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A seaside resort was transformed into a winter wonderland as the summer heat ended in spectacular fashion.

The streets of Falmouth were left buried under a sheet of ice on Friday afternoon after a freak hail storm.

The Cornish town had been basking in late summer sun during most of last week with above average temperatures and largely clear blue skies.

But the heavens opened to bring the blanket of hail before torrential rain and even flooding in the town centre over the weekend.

Residents took refuge inside their homes during the heavy downpours that reportedly left cars sliding on the roads.

Linda Jones, 57, said the hail storm was so intense it was frightening.

“I suppose it lasted 15 to 20 minutes and by the end it had turned everything into a winter landscape,” she said.

“At one point it was quite frightening, the noise was horrendous, and I did think there would be broken windows.”

Hail is created when water droplets in certain types of large clouds freeze as they are blown upwards by strong winds.

Ms Jones added: “It started very, very quickly and came down incredibly fast. There was so much hail it must have been four inches deep.”

Warm and dry weather gave way to dramatic thunder storms in North Devon.

St Nicholas Chapel in the town of Ilfracombe was left with broken windows and electrical damage after being struck by a bolt of lightning on Friday evening.

The 13th Century building, set on top of a hill overlooking the sea, is thought to be the longest-running constantly-lit coastal navigational aid in the country.

Volunteers are now working hard with North Devon Council to ensure the historic chapel is quickly repaired.

President Nigel Vince, of the Ilfracombe Rotary Club, said: "We were extremely fortunate that the building did not catch fire and cause major damage.”

The erratic conditions came after the Met Office issued a severe weather warning across the whole of the South West on Friday and Saturday.

Cooler temperatures were felt across the region with gauges dropping to 13 degrees in Okehampton, West Devon on Saturday.

Variable amounts of rain fell in Devon and Cornwall with more than an inch (28.8mm) recorded in Chivenor, North Devon while many other places escaped with only a few showers.

Forecasters are predicting a largely warm and dry week across the two counties with high pressure dominating

Craig Smell, a forecaster at the Exeter-based Met Office, said: “We may see a few outbreaks of rain on Monday morning before a band of rain arrives on Friday.

“But otherwise it’s looking largely dry in our neck of the woods.”

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