A Mega Hailstorm in South West France

Yesterday is a day I won’t forget for a long time. At this time of year you often get huge electrical storms in these parts. Yesterday the weather was very close; bruised clouds were building up; there were distant rumblings. I was a bit disappointed that it was all starting to happen in the afternoon, because these electrical storms are absolutely spectacular to watch at night; but this was during the day. The sky got darker and darker. The wind picked up. Rain started falling against the backdrop of loud thunder. Tongues of lightening started hitting the landscape. Then, at about 3.30pm, it really kicked off: amidst the stair rod rain, hailstones starting coming down, but these weren’t ordinary hailstones: they were the size of golf balls. I’ve never seen anything like it. In particular there was a very loud roar. I would imagine that this roar wasn’t caused by the wind, which whilst very strong was not at hurricane force, but by the golf ball size hailstones. Our cat Herricka was absolutely terrified of it all (and she’s a tough cookie). She hid under my desk, quivering. A picture paints a thousand words so here’s a link to lots of photos which show some of the damage that storm did yesterday. It was the worst weather event in this region for many decades…

http://www.charentelibre.fr/2018/07/04/les-images-des-degats-et-de-l-important-dispositif-deploye-a-saint-sornin,3280172.php

As an aside, for obvious reasons I did try to find some English language news coverage of the storm, but was unable to. This might be surprising for such an extreme weather event in Europe at this time of year; or maybe it’s not surprising, depending on your take on things.

Getting on with this storm story, as the storm rolled over, the lights in the house started flickering and after half an hour the power went out. Nothing unusual in this: there’s often power outages during such weather, and within an hour or two the power came back on. With the storm almost over, at around six pm I started cooking dinner. Just as I was sitting down to eat it there was a knock on the door. It was my cousin and her husband, who are in the process of buying a property here and are over for a few days to sort out some paperwork. The front windshield on my cousin’s car had been cracked by the hailstones. I gave up on dinner half way through eating it, because Round 2 of the storm kicked off and the power went out again. In the stormy darkness we sat round the table with lit candles. Even with all the racket made by the weather we could hear a dog howling somewhere in the vicinity.

The power didn’t come on again until lunchtime today. In the sweltering heat, and without power for the best part of 24 hours, I won’t go into the sorry state our two freezers are now in. I could bore you with lots more about all this, but I don’t want to turn this blog into an extreme weather channel; although I suppose there’s one obvious question that I should address: how much damage did the storm do to our property? Well, we were lucky. The full fury of the storm only lasted for about half an hour where we are, and this is a 300 year old house with metre thick stone walls. They don’t build ’em like that anymore. There was a lot of damage outside the house, particularly to the canopy of vines above the back terrace.

We won’t get a very good crop this year.

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