UPDATE: At 4:44 p.m., the National Weather Service interrupted the Yankee baseball game on television to issue a severe thunderstorm warning in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
In a storm the National Weather Service called “unusual” for October, heavy rain, lighting, thunder and hail struck Gilroy Wednesday afternoon.
The hail balls ranged in size from Tic-Tac breathmints to small marbles.
In an unusual spring-like thunderstorm coming from the Pacific Ocean, thunder, lightning and bursts of hailstorms will likely linger in Gilroy for a few more hours before clearing up later tonight, according to Will Pi, spokesman for the National Weather Service.
“We usually don’t get thunderstorms in October, we generally see those in March and April,” Pi said.
The flash of furious weather – which descended in full force around 3:40 p.m. and pelted South County for about 10 minutes – “happened at a very bad time for our department,” chuckled dispatcher Linda Figone with the Gilroy Unified School District transportation department.
Per safety protocol, bus drivers pull over during dangerous weather conditions to wait it out, Figone said.
All 18 buses en route were able to get back on schedule safely without any problems.
“I just feel bad for the ones that have to do crossovers,” said Figone, referring to the bus drivers who stand in the middle of the crosswalk holding a stop sign as students trek from one side of the street to the other.
The Santa Clara County roads hotline did not have any updates regarding short-term road closures or lane restrictions.
As for Gilroy’s plethora of auto dealerships, a handful reported to have made it through the icy beating just fine without any collateral damages to inventory.
“(The hail) was big, but not big enough,” joked one employee from Gilroy Toyota on Chestnut Street.
Popular local sports bars including the Claddagh Pub and Restaurant and Stubbies on First Street said their TV cable service was unfettered by the weird weather.
When the hail was hammering down in full force, oddly enough, “we got the best reception,” noted Claddagh bartender Tara Chappel. “When it just barely started raining, that’s when it was all tweaking out.”
Station 55 Bar and Grill on Fifth Street in downtown Gilroy wasn’t so lucky. Their cable went kaput and was still not working as of 5 p.m.
Saint Louise Regional Hospital didn’t have any hail-related injuries to report.
The Gilroy Fire Department responded to a power lane that fell on a car on the 8200 block of Swanston Lane around 4:10 p.m. There were no sparks or fire, but Pacific Gas & Electric was asked to expedite service Thursday afternoon. Swanston Lane was closed at 4:15 p.m., according to Police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza.
By late this evening, the storm will have moved south, Pi said. Tomorrow Gilroy might see a bit of rain, but the bulk of the storm will have passed.