A strong thunderstorm produced enough hail Saturday afternoon to turn parts of Cuenca into a winter wonderland.
The weather bureau reported that ice was as much as two inches deep in the area around Miraflores Park, Los Trigales, and along Av. Gil Ramírez Dávalos near Terrestrial Terminal. The storm also affected driving on the Cuenca-Guayaquil highway through the Cajas Mountains, where several accidents were reported on icy roads, at least one of them serious.
The storm began about 4 p.m. and intense rain flooded several houses in the Trigales Altos sector. Several streets in neighborhood and off Av. Las Americas were closed temporarily to traffic due to high water.
Jorge Estes, a former employee of the national meteorological office who lives in the Miraflores area said he had never seen as much hail in Cuenca. “In 40 years, this is the most I’ve seen,” he said. “Right after the storm passed, my neighborhood looked like a winter scene from Europe or the northern U.S. There was hail on the roofs and in the trees and shrubs. Everyone was out taking pictures to send to their friends on the coast.”
According to Estes, sunshine and warm afternoon temperatures provided fuel for the strong storm. “The heat near the ground rose several kilometers into the atmosphere and the moisture turned to ice,” he said. “We have hail several times a year in Cuenca but this was one for the books.”
Strong thunderstorms were reported in other areas of the central valley Saturday, including Quito, which reported record high temperatures last week.