For some reason Mother Nature is none too happy with the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex, socking the region with two major events this week.
First a Wednesday hail storm unleashed baseball-sized hunks from the sky — and damage estimates from $400 million to a billion dollars. Then, a 3.1-magnatude earthquake hit early Friday morning.
It is the largest reported hail in Dallas County since the mid 1950s, with hunks of ice shattering windows and ripping through vegetation. The Art Deco marquee of the city's historic Lawndale Theater suffered serious damage and a number of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly were smashed at an exhibit of the artist's work at the Dallas Arboretum.
Baseball-s i zed hunks of ice shattered windows and ripped through vegetation.
"Our region sees about 20 severe thundersstorms a year," National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Huffmann told CultureMap Friday. "Hail is always a possibility, depending on the strength of the wind and updrafts, and a good majority of these storms produce it."
Huffmann said the storm was mainly concentrated around the city of Dallas, where the hail could cause the most damage.
According to Reuters, the storm could reach an estimated $2 billion in insured losses, nearly four times the amount of record-breaking wreckage caused by Dallas-area tornadoes in early April. Luckily, no deaths or major injuries have been reported.
Just to add insult to injury, Fort Worth found its nearby suburbs slammed with a minor, but nevertheless surprising, earthquake at 2:33 a.m. Friday morning.
"This was a very small earthquake that might have been strong enough to knock items of a tall shelf," geophysicist John Belini from the U.S. Geological Survey told CultureMap. "Other than that, though, it was relatively weak and probably only lasted a few seconds." Again, no injuries were reported.
Belini said that, while seismic activity in the north Texas is minimal compared to Alaska and California, small earthquakes have occurred an average of two times a year in the past half decade. As of yet, no 21st-century quakes in the DFW region have reached higher than 3.3 on the Richter Scale.
While seismic activity in the north Texas is relatively minimal, small earthquakes have occurred an average of two times a year in the past half decade.
Nevertheless, concern continues to mount over the state's "fracking" industry, which injects chemicals deep into the ground to extract oil and natural gas. There are state impact reports noting that liquid chemicals produced during the fracking process in deep well injection can lubricate fault lines to set off occasional minor seismic activity, although no greater than a magnitude of 3.
Belini noted that many of the North Texas fault lines are small and still under-studied, adding that more research will need to be conducted to determine whether the uptick in activity is related to manmade drilling efforts.