Lawrence County, Mo. woman warns of severe thunderstorms after being beaten by hail

Published: May. 12, 2020 at 9:44 PM CDT
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One week ago the Ozarks got walloped by severe storms.

A woman from Lawrence County has the welts to show how much that hail can hurt. She was beaten by them after getting trapped in a severe thunderstorm. Now she's speaking out, saying her injuries should be a warning to all of us.

According to the National Weather Service, it issues those severe thunderstorm warnings if there is potential for hail the size of a quarter, or if the winds will reach at least 58 miles-per-hour.

Gina Langston said she knew there was a warning when she went walking in the woods. After being pummelled by hail, she's now learned how important those warnings can be.

"The weather is unpredictable, but you just don't know how unpredictable until you're experiencing it," Langston said.

Langston went hunting for morel mushrooms last weekend in Lawrence County with her brother, near La Russell, Mo.

"It's just as much about being in nature as it is about finding mushrooms," she said.

She said she knew there was a severe thunderstorm warning, but said she had a plan.

"Once it started raining we'd head back, and it just came on so quick and it didn't start with rain like we anticipated," she said. "It started with full size, ping pong ball size hail and it came down hard and it came down fast."

That hail beat and bruised her entire body.

"Everybody sees the hail and they're in awe just of how huge the big balls of ice are but once you feel it you take it seriously," Langston said.

Mike Albano, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said weather warnings are not issued lightly.

"We know for a fact that some severe thunderstorms can produce wind gusts that are just as strong in some cases as a tornado so it's a life threatening event," Albano said.

Albano said he'd like to think everyone takes shelter when they hear about a severe thunderstorm, but said that's an alert many people just ignore.

"Over time, years and decades, that we issue these products, nothing happens until it does and then they'll wish they had taken, or have heeded the warning," he said.

Langston writes for the Greenfield Vedette, and shared her traumatic experience in an editorial column. Now, she's sharing it with KY3 News, in the hopes someone else won't have to learn this lesson the hard way. She said she feels bad for worrying her family.

"My biggest regret from all of it was putting myself at risk even though I knew there were thunderstorm warnings," she said.

Albano said it's a good idea to have a weather app on your phone that shows a radar and a map. The KY3 First Alert Weather App can be personalized for where you live, so you can get notifications for those warnings issued from the National Weather Service.