Four feet of hail fell in the Texas Panhandle area Wednesday, stranding motorists, trapping cars, and blocking off highways for a large part of the region.
The two to four feet of hail that fell in the area north of Amarillo was so unbelievable that the National Weather Service, the Texas Department of Transportation, and various other sources posted a variety of pictures detailing the intense storm on their Facebook page. Even then, people were still skeptical.
"Ok that is fake … that hail is nasty brown," wrote Christopher Henderson, referring to the boulder-like appearance of the hail. The pea-sized to baseball-sized hail fell with such force along with rain that it stuck together and built up quickly.
"so if the hail is that deep why did it leave a place untouched where the grass is. SO FAKE!" posted another user.
The U.S. National Weather Service of Amarillo, Texas defended the photos, however, explaining that the "lower resolution photo," hail accumulating in a "lower elevation area," and "multiple reports" from emergency managers and media made faking it an impossibility.
"You're looking at four feet deep" hail in some parts, Brian Thomas, sheriff of Potter County, told KAMR-TV. "This was just one of those weird storms that just sat here and came down extremely heavy in this one area."
Some "weird storms" have happened in the past too.
Dalhart, Texas had the same kind of storm in 1993, according to Jose Garcia, the chief forecaster at NWS Amarillo. In that case, five to six-foot deep hail fell across a concentrated area and took nearly a month to finally melt.
In this case, Texas sun and temperature started melting the hail immediately, and roads were flooded in low-lying areas. The flooding, however, had an upside. Texas is in need of water, and the storm provided some much-needed water to the lakes.
"I live in the heart of Texas and even though we have had rain, we are still in Stage 3 water restrictions," wrote Julie Banks Smith.
"Sadly, the lake level only went up … 0.25 feet," NWS Amarillo responded.