What the hail?!

“In Minnesota it’s not May 3rd today; it’s the 54th of February.”

I was pretty winter-weary when I posted that on Facebook two years ago. The winter of 2013 was rough.

But what a difference two years make! Today was glorious — sunny and 81 (27C) degrees — so I spent a few hours gardening. It felt wonderful, even if I was disappointed that by 5 p.m. I still hadn’t planted my new perennials.

It was getting cloudy and in the distance I could hear thunder. “Perfect timing!” I thought, as I hoed one of the raised beds in the back yard. “I’ll get everything in the ground and then it’ll get a good soaking.”

Not 30 seconds later, though, I heard the first “plink.” Plink. Plink. Plinkyplink! PLINK PLINK! Little pellets of hail were pelting me and bouncing onto the lawn. “Better get inside!” I heard Esteban yell from the back porch.

An instant later the hail tripled in size and the wind started blowing sideways, from the north. As I dashed for the back porch, one of our neighbor’s storm windows got ripped off the house, flew past me, and shattered on our lawn.

Window 1310573 BLOG Window 1310562 BLOG

It wasn’t any quieter inside, though. The sound of the hail on the windows was unlike anything Esteban and I have experienced in our 25 years in this house. Here, listen for yourself:

The first 30 seconds were the hail against the glass-block window in our bathroom, then the standard window in our bedroom, and finally the hail on our roof. It hailed like that for almost 10 minutes.

When it finally did quiet down, Estebam and I ventured out to assess the damage. The car was fine — if a bit dirty.

Clouds 1310533 BLOG

But the bleeding hearts and hostas I’d just relocated were another matter.

Bleeding hearts 1310508 BLOG Hostas 1310493 BLOG

The weather map showed that the most violent part of the storm had passed over us. And I finally understood what the meteorologists meant when they said, “it’s a dangerous storm, capable of producing quarter-size hail.”

Hail 1310534 BLOG Hail 1310546 CR BLOG

Hail 1310515 BLOG

But — other than a few mangled plants, and some spectacularly dirty windows — we were lucky to survive unscathed.

Window 1310461 BLOG

Only a few minutes later the birds were singing again, and our (rather bedraggled) woodpecker friend was back on the hunt for fresh bugs.

Woodpecker 1310614 BLOG

Finally, a rainbow appeared as the storm rumbled off.

Rainbow 1310645 BLOG

I remembered my childhood Sunday School lessons: “I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.

God may have promised never to flood the earth again … but he never said anything about hail.


    • The weather in Minnesota can be WILD, Des. There are no natural barriers to protect us, and the wind can come from any direction — which is why it’s not *that* uncommon to see a 40-degree temperature change in 24 hours. But on the plus side, it’s seldom boring!

      About the sound recording: I wish I’d used my “good” recorder instead of my phone! It really was the most extraordinary sound. I don’t get scared during storms, but the force with which those ice bullets were hitting the house really gave me pause. Thank goodness our windows held up to the assault!

  1. It really was a fabulous day, until the storm. I love when the sun comes back out afterwards, though.

    • It’s a metaphor for life, I think: You don’t fully appreciate the sunshine until you’ve been through a storm.

    • I loved your post, Jeff! Very clever. I do hope winter left gracefully, without making an ugly scene. 🙂

  2. Oh my Lord! I think Scotland gets your weather, but scaled down to suit our comparatively tiny landmass. So we’ve had quite a few hail showers over the past few weeks, but the hail is peppercorn-sized, not the size of ping-pong balls! And our dramatic temperature changes are ten degrees, not 40…and so on.
    I’m glad Esteban got you inside before that window crowned you. But trust you to get shots of before, during and after! Hope the poor plants recover! 🙂

    • I think your description of Scotland’s weather is quite apt, DB — it really is much like Minnesota, but scaled down from the jumbo U.S. super-size to more European proportions. That said, I still think Scotland has us beat on cloudiness and damp! And also, your men look more dapper, what with their sporrans and all … 😉

  3. Hail is crazy. In 2001 here in QLD we had hail the size of my fist. It started in the middle of the night and was so deafening on the tin roof that my then husband and I couldn’t hear each other shouting! Sounded like it was raining house bricks. We tried to venture outside to put blankets on the cars, but couldn’t. Both cars had smashed windscreens and mine looked like it had recently survived smallpox. Our neighbour went out to try to help their donkey and received multiple cuts for his trouble. It was nuts. I love the wild power of Nature.

    • Oh my goodness! The storm you describe sounds nuts indeed. (That poor donkey! I hope your neighbor was able to get it to safety.) As you say, the wild power of nature can be awe-inspiring. Though it always breaks my heart to hear about the devastation storms or earthquakes or tidal waves can cause …

  4. Lovely blog from not so lovely material. It did a number on the houseplants I’d put on my balcony just the day before (and wasn’t here to rescue them.)

    • Oh, Jarrett … I’m so sorry you lost a bunch of houseplants too. I do hope at least some of them will recover, though! I was pleased (and surprised) to find my bleeding hearts coming back today, only a little worse for the wear. Perhaps you’ll be equally lucky …

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