Destruction visited Yuma and area

Long-time Yuma residents are saying the May 20, 2024 destructive hail storm is the worst they ever remember.

It likely is one of the worst in Yuma’s 138-year history — most likely No. 1 in terms monetary damage. The hurtling hail played no favorites, impacting nearly every building and home in town, as well as vehicles that were not fortunate enough to be parked under cover. Some areas definitely were hit much harder than others, but it was felt all over.

Luckily there were no reports of human injury directly related to the storm.

An official dollar estimate is not available, but the damage has to reach well into the millions of dollars.

Plus, a wide swath of the countryside also was pounded unmercifully. The exact breadth of the impacted area was not known to the Pioneer at press time, but it is likely any farm ground in the storm’s path suffered significant damage, as well as country homes, outbuildings and such. The winter wheat fields in the Yuma area were looking very healthy prior to Monday night. Livestock also took a pounding.

The Pioneer hopes to have more details of the destruction for next week’s edition.

Monday, May 20, was sunny but a bit breezy and cool with a high around 70 degrees. The National Weather Service was forecasting a strong chance for severe weather that evening.

Alerts started popping up on everyone’s cell phones by about 8 p.m. There was a terrific lightning show in the western sky as the storm bore down on Yuma.

Then it hit in town at about 9 p.m.

The hail fell unabated for what seemed an eternity as residents scrambled for safety inside their homes. Some hail stones were as big as roughly tennis balls. However, it was not so much the size as it was the sheer volume that fell. Some neighborhoods, as well as downtown, were covered in several inches by the time it was over.

Windows were destroyed, roofs and siding pounded, and trees and other vegetation shredded.

Numerous residents began dealing with flooding and other water damage as the accompanying two inches of torrential rain came pouring through the new openings.

Residents began scrambling to cover those up as soon as the wicked storm moved on to the east. (Eckley was spared its wrath, but Wray also sustained a significant pounding.) Many were up well into the morning boarding up windows and such.

It appeared it was mostly north-facing windows that took the beating. Siding on several houses was stripped away completely, as well as the north-facing front of the Cobblestone Inn & Suites at the west end of town on Highway 34. All the hotels had windows broken out.

Hoch Lumber opened soon after the storm moved on, and a steady stream of vehicles passed through its yard to pick up plywood well past 1 a.m.

City crews were out plowing the hail off the streets. A pickup got stuck in a hail drift at an intersection west of downtown. Yuma police directed traffic away from the most-flooded areas. Horses were seen running through some neighborhoods.

There were eight separate localized power outages, including the far south end of town, some areas in the north, as well as the east and west sides. They were mostly caused by tree branches falling on secondary lines serving residences. However, the vast majority of town maintained power.

There also were power outages in the countryside between Otis and Yuma. Y-W Electric reported Wednesday morning that 42 broken poles had been found and replaced, and three broken cross arms repaired. Y-W Electric estimated that 650 accounts were affected in Yuma and Washington counties. All power was restored by Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday was cleanup day throughout the community. It dawned cloudy and cool. The Yuma school’s had a “hail day” with the final days of the school year resuming Wednesday. The Yuma Post Office was closed Tuesday as the staff dealt with flooding issues. Mail delivery resumed Wednesday, and the post office itself reopened on a limited basis.

Several businesses were closed for the day as owners and employees dealt with cleanup at the businesses and at home. A steady stream of vehicles continued to pass through Hoch’s yard for plywood and other supplies, and other businesses providing repair and cleanup items had a steady stream of customers.

Roofing companies swarmed into Yuma by Tuesday and were seen all over town. They continued to walk the neighborhoods visiting with homeowners on Wednesday.

Cleanup efforts could be witnessed all over town all day Tuesday, and well into Wednesday, including residents raking up all the debris in their yards.

The city temporarily is allowing residents to pile the leaves and grass in the middle of the streets, and the residents definitely took advantage. The city also opened an area by the power plant along W. Railroad Ave. for residents to take leaves and grass.

Indian Hills Golf Course obviously sustained massive damage. Trees were stripped, with branches everywhere and the greens have been damaged. The course is closed until further notice, most likely for the rest of the month.

The storm was so severe that some television stations from Denver were in town Tuesday, and the plight of Yuma even made the national news.

It will be a long time before everything is fixed.

The Hail Storm of May 20, 2024 will be remembered even longer.