GILROY -- For longtime Gilroy resident Lesley Benson, it was "like the heavens opened" Wednesday afternoon when a darkening sky suddenly gave way to a deluge of white pebbles of ice, some an inch across.

"It was very loud, and the TV kind of went in and out," said the owner of the Claddagh Irish Restaurant and Pub on First Street, who was home when the freakish storm came through midafternoon. "It's very uncommon at this time of year, and it wasn't really that cold to be having that size of hailstone."

Surprised residents reported hail elsewhere in the South Bay including Los Gatos and South San Jose, as more light rain moved south of Sunnyvale through the night.

The largest hailstones came down in Gilroy, where icy clumps a half-inch to an inch in diameter fell around 4 p.m.

"That's considered severe-weather hail," said forecaster Steve Anderson of the National Weather Service.

Gilroy officials said there were no reports of damage from the hail.

The weather service reported that 0.09 inches of rain fell in San Jose on Wednesday, while Gilroy saw 0.71 inches. Forecasters predicted up to a quarter-inch of rain overnight in communities south of Sunnyvale as well as thunderstorms over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Most of the severe weather was expected to have moved through less-populated areas south of San Jose.


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Anderson said it's the result of an unstable air system currently sitting off the coast of Monterey. "It should be partly cloudy and mild through the week for the entire Bay Area," he said.

Temperatures in San Jose will be about 70 degrees Thursday and creep up through the end of the week.

Benson said hail in Gilroy had melted off by early evening but that people were still talking about it Wednesday night.

"We've had occasional storms like that, but less than a handful," she said. "People drove into town and everything was white."

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.