Editor’s note: On Sunday, April 14, Eastpoint suffered severe damage to the waterfront when a strong storm brought brutal winds, large hail and record breaking rainfall to the county. A funnel cloud was observed passing over the Whispering Pines development and continued to Vrooman Park where it caused so much damage the park remains closed. Below is author Dawn Radford’s account of the storm.
Sunday afternoon, I had gone into the backyard to look for a flower or two to put in a small vase. I noticed that the wind which had been out of the south all day was now direct, brisk and steady out of the east. Odd, I thought.
I went into the house, put the flower in the vase, and went back to bedroom with a book to read. No more than a page later, the first hailstones plinked and clinked on the roof and west side of the house. Within seconds, the wind and rain came heavy out of the west, with stones cracking against the windows. I ran into the hallway, yelling “hail” to my husband and shutting the doors to the two west-side bedrooms because I was sure the windows were going to shatter into the rooms.
At this point, the rain and hail crashed so loud against the roof and west walls that we had to yell to hear each other. Outside on the more sheltered east side of the house, the air became in one moment like the action you see in a window-front washing machine. Trees and bushes were waving crazily, rain and hail along with leaves and branches twisted in the air, going around and up and down and in crazy directions. The very air itself seemed to be liquefied, and white with hail that fell and stayed on the ground accumulating like snow there.
In minutes, our backyard had filled to resemble a lake, something that has happened in rain, but only after hours of heavy downpours. The hail tapered off and in a few more minutes the rain and wind lessened and moved on. Our front, western side yard looked like it held an inch or more of snow. The back had hail inches deep where it had bounced off the walls and fallen from the roof. A heap of clear stones lay below the down-spout of the gutter. A six-to-eight-inch wide and high drift of hail lay against the back door, despite a six foot wide overhead shelter.
In the storm, I forgot to take photos, then had to look for the camera because in the aftermath excitement, could not remember where it was. We hurried to take photos before the hail could melt further, and measured some stones already partly melted at more than 1 ½ inches, one at 1 7/8 inches. Many were rounded and smooth, but most were sharp and jagged, with spurs extended so that they left tears in our screens sometimes six inches or more long and two and three inches wide.
Our insured car and truck together sustained nearly $4,000 damage. My husband’s uninsured hunting truck had paint ice-blasted off, in some places down to the shiny metal. Our roof shingles were ice blasted smooth, some with holes ripped into them. We swept up over a quart of black shingle gravel from the driveway alone.
As soon as the storm left, we tuned into the Weather Channel and later the Panama City VIPIR weather channel, and never heard the first word about our storm. We’ve heard rumors that a Tallahassee station and an Atlanta station did report a spout and small tornado, but that one set of reporters seemed to have no idea where Eastpoint might be. It’s all memory now, except for the visible evidences, including huge sheets of metal still hanging in the pine trees across from some defrocked seafood houses beside Highway 98 in Eastpoint.