Hailstones "the size of golf balls" have rained down on Italy’s Lake Garda damaging property and forcing tourists to hide out in hotels.
Videos showing the massive hailstones falling on the town of Peschiera del Garda went viral on social media overnight.
Carlow man Jim Dunne, who has been in Peschiera since Friday, told Newstalk the weather has alternated from "heavy heat" to "strong winds and heavy rain" since he arrived.
"We've had at least one weather event every day," he said, "It comes really quickly and then disappears very, very quickly."
"Last night was totally different, the wind picked up, got cooler. The wind died down, it got really, really hot, and all of a sudden, it started to rain and then just hailstones like I've never seen before.
"They were phenomenal – the size of your fist."
"I've never seen anything like that before; the damage was phenomenal.”
Hailstones "the size of your fist" have rained down on Italy’s Lake Garda, damaging property and forcing tourists to hide out in hotels. pic.twitter.com/8O4fX4PhC7
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) July 25, 2023
Mr Dunne said he was in a local bar when the thunderstorm began last night – as a 20-minute "fork lighting" storm lit up the small resort town before the hailstorm began.
"I've never seen anything like that before and the amount of damage done was phenomenal," he said.
"Our hotel windows were broken, and all the cars that were parked around the hotel were completely damaged."
Mr Dunne said the heavy-duty plastic chairs on his balcony were cracked in half.
"It was frightening," he said, "There are trees down ... when we were just sitting in the hotel after the hailstorm, I'd say at least 10 ambulances over the course of maybe five, 10 minutes passed by."
Lauren Whelan and Gráinne Smyth from Clare told Newstalk they were "stuck inside a restaurant" for two hours when the storm came over Peschiera.
"The waiters were running around, trying to pin down all the canopies and everything under chairs – it started raining through the roof," Ms Whelan said.
"There was this massive bang, and everybody froze, and then there was another one and another one.
"I genuinely thought it was gunshots, it was so loud. My Apple Watch told me I was in too loud of an environment."
"There were people crying," said Ms Smyth, "There were ambulances and fire brigades going past us".
"There were big, huge, branches, we were climbing over dirt with all the branches."
While locals in Peschiera are used to the area's "tropical climate", Mr Dunne said the town was shocked by the extreme weather.
"One of the managers in the hotel and one of the guys that was in the bar that we took refuge in said this year was crazy," he said.
"These hailstones were certainly something that was not the norm.
"I've never seen so many Ferraris in my life, I just hope they were all in garages because they're in bits otherwise."
Ms Smyth said she believed the hailstones were a first for Peschiera.
"All the locals were out taking pictures and videos," she said.
"When the thunder was going off last night, the whole apartment was shaking – the windows, the shutters, the inside doors, everything was vibrating."
Mr Dunne had intended to fly home today, but his flight remains delayed as the tropical weather continues.
"The sky is very dark; there's thunder, a bit of lightning, it's raining, it's quite wet," he said.
"These storms, they came like a tropical storm – really hot before it, then cold winds and then it goes again.
"So, I wouldn't say it impacted our holiday – it made it interesting for sure, but I'm sort of glad to go home today."