May 30, 2024
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By Margaret Roddy
A severe hailstorm caused havoc in northern Italy last week. This included a North Louth family.

Dave Fearon and his family, Mairead and Kevin Fearon from Mountpleasant, their children Katie and Jamie and their parents Briege and Kevin Fearon were enjoying the Bella Italia camping site on the Lake Garda shores when an unforeseen storm hit the area, which brought hailstones as large as tennis balls.

The former Dundalk Rugby Club player and coach recalls, “We were outside playing cards when a thunderstorm erupted.”

They didn’t give it much thought because it happens a lot in hot weather.

Hailstones began to pelt the camp, and suddenly, the storm became more intense.

The wind suddenly whipped. The hailstones started out as small peanuts and then grew into tennis ball-sized stones.

The canopy was protecting the glass doors. As soon as we got there, an unfortunate girl with a nasty gash to her head fell through the glass door. The girl was working in a restaurant when the storm hit. We cleaned her and took her to reception after the storm. “She was in an awful state and she could have even died.”

The two kids, aged 8 and 9, were terrified by the sounds of huge hailstones hitting their bungalow roof as they watched caravans, campervans tents and vehicles on site being battered.

Dave: “We saw the destruction when we went outside the next day.”

The strong winds that accompanied the storms damaged patio furniture and trees. Hailstones damaged windscreens, and the caravans and vehicles on site suffered dents and smashed bodywork.

The pool had to be closed for 2 days due to damage.

Cars were tow away so that people wouldn’t drive damaged vehicles while cleaning was in progress.

There were so many broken windshields, they had to run out of them.

Many European tourists driving to Italy became stranded as a result. Relief operations were set up to help them.

Dave’s family returned home from their vacation on Saturday.

Their holiday was cut short due to a strike by Italian baggage handlers.

Dave: “Mairead and the kids went three days late. Then my parents came to join us the second week.”

The temperatures there were between 28deg and 38deg instead of the 40deg they expected.

The heat was never unbearable.

The locals he spoke to had not experienced hailstorms like this before.

It’s common for them to receive 8-10 inches during a thunderstorm, but this is something they have never experienced before.

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