Growing up on Canada’s East coast I had heard stories of the storms of golf ball sized hailstones that sometimes fell out in the prairies. This sounded dramatic as the largest hail I ever saw on the coast was about the size of a grain of rice. Since then, in the decade or so I’ve lived in Alberta, I’ve seen a few decent storms with pea sized hail. Last Thursday I was “treated ” to the most impressive downfall to date.
Towards the end of my workday ominous looking clouds implacably rolled over the city. In a remarkably short time the sky darkened until it looked like nightfall, dark enough that our building’s outside lights switched on. The radio announcements of a severe thunderstorm warning seemed gratuitous. Not much work was getting done as we milled about peering at the sky. I was hopeful that the storm would break before I had to leave for home as I didn’t relish the idea of getting caught in it.
The storm was intense and short. We had closed all the big doors as the winds started gusting and shortly after there was the deafening din of the hail pummeling the building. Although I watched it from the comfort of secure shelter I’ve spoken to a few people were caught outside. Not fun. On the bright side, they get some serious bragging rights. Within half an hour the downfall had settled in to a light steady rain. This was a much better situation for cycling home in.
On the way home I snapped a few pics. As luck would have it, I had forgotten my good camera and was forced to use my antique cell phone. Fortunately, I had filled the phone’s hopper with coal and the boiler was whistling nicely (soon I will upgrade to a newfangled internal combustion phone). I was pleased that the Raleigh 20 handled the rain, fallen debris and flooded roads with aplomb. I like this bike more each time I ride it.
Once at home I discovered the house to be intact but the garden mostly flattened. Most disappointingly, almost all the apples had been knocked from our trees and were looking very bruised on the ground. This was a sore blow to our great cider making plans. All in all, not the worst storm of my time in the prairies, but definitely the largest hail. I popped a few of the bigger stones into my mouth and crunched them. I assumed they would imbue me with the strength a of thunderstorm and a heart as icy as the hail. I will let you know how this works out.