Monday, March 8, 2010

Mighty Large Hail

Here Ruthie Roo waits patiently to see if I will put the hail down her brother's shirt.

Growing up in central New Mexico, the only hail I ever saw as a child was the small stuff, the size of peas or maybe marbles once or twice. Mind you, it hurt, but after getting hit a few times, the wisest among us learned that the best way to avoid the pain was to stay inside. Eventually, even I learned that inside was the best place to be in a hail storm.

We lived in a large house with a tin roof, so even the small stuff was sounded awfully impressive, but I don't remember ever losing a window or a cat to hail.

I have seen larger hail on television and recently my uncle's house, in the center of the state, was pummeled to the point that cars were totaled and siding was destroyed. The pictures looked impressive, but I don't guess it really sank home.

Long time Carlsbad residents tell stories of softball or golfball sized hail, which I had always guessed was smaller hail that had been run through a fish story or two, but last night for first time, I experienced hail that I worried might have the power to break glass. Not the size of basketballs, mind you, but larger than I had ever seen.

The picture above was taken moments after the hail stopped. I gathered a sampling of the hail and took a picture with my phone. It measures about 3/4s of an inch and the cracking noise it made as it glanced off the windows sounded like a baseball connecting with a bat.

I'd have to say that regardless of the size, the sound is much more impressive on corrugated tin than anything else, but the whack whacking on the glass was pretty cool. The cool part being the fact that no windows were lost.

Moments after it began, it was over and deathly silent. Within five minutes, the skies were clearing and we saw nothing more through the night.

I checked early this morning and the hail was gone. There were no signs of pitting on the vehicles, though the hail removed the majority of the remaining pecans from the trees and the streets were brown from dislodged hulls and branches. Driving to work at 7AM, there were drifts of hail along the shoulders, but by 9AM when I emerged from the classroom they were gone.

I often dream of replacing my indoor teaching job, computers, pressed shirts and paved roads for land, a ranch house and cattle or maybe a farm. Some days a post hole digger and miles of fence to string sound more appealing than program reviews, Chairing department meetings and such. Last night left me wondering, how many cow hands have had the sense knocked out of (or into) them while riding herd on a stormy night.

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