Hail Storm Punches Through Mall Ceiling, Damages Cars

Hail the size of golf balls pummeled the Philadelphia area on Thursday afternoon, coming down hard and fast enough to shatter the skylights at a Berks County mall and send shoppers running for cover.

The hail also cracked the windshield of a jet landing at Philadelphia International Airport, wrought havoc on residents' cars and left roadways looking like a snowstorm had hit.

Pamela McCain was in the middle of the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing when hail blew out the entire strand of skylights across the mall's roof, sending patrons fleeing the falling glass.

"It was one of the worst things ever seen. The hail was so intense," she said. "I've lived on this earth for 40 years and never seen anything like it."

Bernadette Marco was inside the mall with a friend when the hail storm started just before 4 p.m.

"We were in the store, and we thought we heard thunder. But it was really loud, and it didn't stop, and so we walked out into the middle of the mall, and we were looking — and all of the sudden hail just started coming through parts of the ceiling, so we ran back into the store," Marco said.

Hail blew out the entire strand of skylights across the roof of the mall, which is in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, a small town of about 10,000 and hometown of Taylor Swift.

When the weather calmed, Marco and her friend went outside to find her car, and dozens of others, heavily damaged. "We had to get my friend's aunt to come and pick us up, and we saw other people driving with their windshields completely blown out."

No one was injured.

The mall shut did down for the evening for cleanup and repairs. PennDOT dispatched plows to remove clear the streets of accumulated hail, which looked like the aftermath of a snow storm.

"This is extremely unusual for this part of the country," said NBC10 Chief Meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz.

Witnesses in some parts of the area reported seeing as much as an inch and a half of hail.

"I was pretty crazy," said Tim Dalbey, who was at work at Launch Dynamic Media in Wyomissing when the storm hit.

"You couldn't even hear each other inside, because we have a tin roof," Dalbey said. "We all just got out our cameras and started taking pictures."

Dalbey's car was damaged, too, and he spent the rest of the afternoon on the phone with his insurance company. "My back windshield got smashed through. My front windshield is cracks. Dings, all over the car," he said.

Funnel clouds were reported near Hartly in Kent County, Delaware, on  Thursday afternoon, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning that expired at 5:15 p.m.

Just before 5 p.m., a US Airways jet plane landed at Philadelphia International Airport with a cracked windshield after flying through the hailstorm as it was getting ready to land. No one was hurt. The plane landed safely and was taken out of commission for an inspection and repairs. 

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