Yesterday, we had a hail storm.
Growing up in Joburg, you get used to pretty extreme weather. We have howling winds, torrential rain and spectacular thunderstorms. We also have hail on a fairly frequent basis.
I always knew that a storm was particularly heavy if the noise on the roof suddenly became too loud and the lawn started looking like it was popping popcorn all over the place. I loved watching the little balls of hail jump around as they fell on the grass.
The biggest hail I’ve ever seen before was about the size of a small gumball, and the noise that went with it was insane. I’m very glad that I wasn’t home yet when yesterday’s storm happened.
The first signs of the hailstorm was evident when I made my way up the Krugersdorp hill. Piles of hail, looking like snow, were scattered all along the rock face. As I rounded the bend at the top of the hill, I could see the debris of leaves and twigs strewn over the road. I drove on to pick my daughter up from daycare, where I heard the first stories. One poor mom arrived at the daycare just as the hail started falling and got stuck in her car. The worst part was that she was terrified that she might still get hurt as the hail struck dents into her car and threatened to knock out her front windscreen.
I did a quick check of my phone as a left the daycare and saw that a friend who lives up the street from me had updated his Blackberry status. A few of the windows in his house got knocked out. I thought he was being funny and ignored it, until I got home.
You could tell that the storm was unusual by the number of old ladies running around in our complex, trying to see if their roses got damaged. Leaves and twigs were everywhere. I got my daughter and walked into the house, knowing immediately that my friend hadn’t been joking. My husband was in the process of cleaning up the last few pieces of glass from where a golf ball sized hailstone had shattered one of the windows in our lounge.
Thankfully, that was the only window in our house that got hit. I went back to see if my friend had posted any pictures of the damage to his house. They had lost about 4 windows, with the biggest hail stones hitting their house being about the size of cricket balls. Other friends had multiple cracked windows and dented cars.
Driving to work this morning, the streets looked like a hurricane had passed through. What I had thought were twigs turned out to be entire branches that had been ripped off of the trees lining the streets. I was truly thankful that I missed the storm.
It did get me thinking though. Storms seem to be getting worse. Torrential rains have turned into dangerous flash floods, hail storms have turned into deadly downpours. I can only imagine what would’ve happened if one of those hailstones had hit an actual person instead of just a few windows.
Is our planet starting to fight back?