Great Dunmow/Braintree: Freak hailstorm causes accidents on ‘sheet of ice’ A120
18:32 03 March 2014
A sudden Arctic blast struck the county today when a freak hailstorm shower caused multiple accidents on the A120 near Braintree.
Up to an inch of hail fell in the space of just an hour as two police cars and around 11 other vehicles were reportedly involved in accidents and required recovery from the dual carriageway.
An eyewitness said the sudden downpour transformed the road into a “sheet of ice”.
No serious injuries were reported but a man in his 20s was treated by paramedics for minor injuries, an East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said.
Essex Police said they were called to a “number of incidents” on the A120 between Great Dunmow and Braintree at 2.30pm yesterday.
In total, some 13 cars were reportedly involved in collisions on the dual carriageway as motorists struggled to combat the sudden unseasonal surge of hail.
Writing on Twitter, Witham resident Keith Windard, said: “Don’t know how many cars exactly but around nine with the police car.
“(It) looks like the weather was to blame. Hail was bad. (It was) like a sheet of ice.
“I can have only been a minute or two behind from when it happened. Lots of other emergency services were driving from Braintree to the accident.”
Jade Ellis, also of Witham, said the hailstones were “massive”.
She said: “They split in to smaller chunks as they hit the ground. The whole of the pavement was covered, like a white sheet.”
Dan Holley, a forecaster for East Anglian-based Weatherquest, said it was not uncommon for hailstorms to form at this time of year as the heat from the sun collides with cold air in the upper atmosphere to create the storms.
“It was April showers come early,” he said. “But we are not forecasting any more for the rest of the week which should see more settled weather.”
An Essex Police spokesman confirmed two police cars, both a Ford Focus, were involved in separate single-vehicle accidents and were later recovered from the scene.
“The first call came in at 2.30pm and there (were) at least five separate incidents,” he said.
Queueing traffic was reported for several hours in both directions between Dunmow South in Great Dunmow and Felsted turn off in Felsted.