West of the Fields

A tropical ecologist reporting from the field. Musings on life and art, botfly extractions, tropical plant identification, beer, parrots, machetes. Etc.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Freakish occurrence of the month

... and possibly the freakish occurrence of the decade, meteorologically speaking. This afternoon about 12:30, I was trimming back a particularly intransigent and not particularly attractive vine in my patio garden, when the sky turned ominously dark—so dark that the streetlights came on—and thunder caromed off the hills. This is not so unusual; generally the storms roll in later, but the dark sky was nothing out of the ordinary. The weird part was, it got cold. Sufficiently chilly that I put my fleece on in the middle of the day, which never happens.

I finished cutting the last few stems of the ugly vine and went inside to prepare lunch. The rain started pounding the roof in a frantic crescendo. And then the sound changed, more frantic and louder than I'd ever heard rain here. I looked out onto the patio and saw that it wasn't rain after all—hailstones the size of marbles were rattling down. I went to the front door and stood there taking pictures of my barely-recognizable front lawn, with the Heliconia leaves tattered and ice pellets ricocheting off the walls. Then the hail got larger, with chunks the size of ice cubes hitting the pavement and bouncing back to where I was in the recessed doorway. I retreated toward the kitchen and nearly wiped out in a rapidly-expanding puddle coming from the patio door. A quick glance outside showed that the hail had punched giant holes in almost all of the transparent fiberglass panels in the patio roof, and the concurrent rain was rushing in. I put a towel against the door, mopped up most of the puddle, and called my landlord. Apparently his sister's house has (or had, I should say) similar fiberglass panels on the roof of almost every room, so my porch repair is somewhere down the list.

The hail continued for maybe 20 minutes, enough to leave a visible layer on the ground, all of it marble-sized or up. The trees in the neighborhood look as though they have been thrashed. And as of this writing—almost nine hours after the storm—there is still a pile of hail in the drainage ditch, radiating cold like some artifact from an alien world.


At 12:06 PM, Blogger Em said...

We've had hail recently, too. Golf-ball sized, large enough to crack the windshield on our vehicle, which has now been replaced. Of course, it's probably not quite so freakish in Montana. Hope your home is repaired before you get too wet.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Hi, Em! It looks like you're having a great time in Montana. Your photos are awesome. I hope you had a safe place to shelter during the hail storm. It was pretty scary here. And very unusual-- there was an interview on the evening news with a woman in her 60s who has lived here all her life and never seen anything like this. In other news, my porch roof is still not fixed, but the landlord and his brother have promised to come tomorrow. The neighborhood resounds with hammering. Hugs to you and all the family!


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