Friday, May 24, 2019

Well, that was a unique experience....

So, I'm in Redding, hanging out waiting for Mrs. CW and her mom to show up from Sacramento.  Doppler radar showed a nice thunderstorm to the north, moving my way, so I went outside and sat in the back, Scotch in hand, to watch whatever might happen.  It seemed The storm would pass by to the east - there was a bit of thunder and lightning, no rain.

Then I started to hear a train rumbling by in the distance.  Odd.  Didn't know there was a track nearby.  Then it hit me.

I was hearing hail pounding down on the roofs and countryside.  And it was discernibly coming closer. And getting much louder.

90 seconds later it started.  Marble to golf ball sized.  My truck was outside, and they were hitting hard enough that I was afraid it would break by windshield.  Pulled a couple blankets off the bed and threw them over the windshield, as I didn't want to put it in the garage as the womenfolk were expected any minute.   I didn't think it would be good to have them beaten by huge hailstones running from the car to the house, rather let them pull into the garage safely.

Sounded like the train was passing right by, it was roaring.

What is this, Texas!??

Knocked some of the leaves off the trees.

What to do with the hail?  Cool your drink with it!

The angry storm passes on.

These hail stones looked like little missiles.  Does anyone know the explanation of why they get this shape?

The biggest stone was just over two inches.

I tell people that Redding feels more elemental in some indescribable way than down in Sacramento.  Today emphasized that feeling in spades.  I've never heard the hail approaching sound like a train.  I've never seen any stone even close to golf ball sized in California.  

A one of a kind experience.


  1. Wow CW, that's a crazy experience. I trust the wife and MIL made it safely. And your truck? No damage, I hope. I lived in Calif a long time, and I never saw anything like that!

  2. The explanation for "why they get this shape" will get too perfidious if we touch on the details. Where I'm sitting in Arkansas I know but shall not explain why "perfidious" is the perfect word.

    Far as the roof is concerned you may well be screwed but where the pickup's concerned you might try the following (just before the sun puts "real heat" on the flat uppermost sections .. hood, cabtop .. Sorry no help for the windscreen/windshield) Anyway, take some cubes of ice and place individually into the "ponds" of the dings. Then allow the sun (Sol) to do its' stuff.

    Provided the paint's not cracked you'll maybe appreciate you've got an Arkie Reader CW.

  3. Suggested bookmarks:

    The former's for forecast but the latter can be "helpful" to gauge something that's 'coming at you' (weather front's/storm's history) Probably ain't gonna be worth spit where you are CW but, I know you got some "foreign followers."

    What was it Forrest said, "We just do as we can?" Or something to that effect.

  4. We'll occasionally get hail in my area of SC and when it comes down, the sound millions of hailstones make hitting the pond out back is very unique. Must drive the fish insane.

  5. Big enough to leave a mark! The itinerant damage fixers will probably be coming through town to fix the hail damage. There are always a few dent pullers and windshield repairers chasing the hail storms, just like roofers - check with your insurers if your truck suffered damage, they may be able to connect you if needed. They are quite good at getting them out without a trace using suction and dry ice. Around here they hang out at the Walmart or the auto parts stores, taking customers.

    Hailstone shape is due to the up and down movement of hail within the air currents - they form by gradually accreting rain drops into ice, in layers - the wedge shape probably just was from melting on the way down in much warmer air.

  6. Welcome to the world of weather... check out Derek Taff's pics on FB:

    Wow this was a crazy evening! Was lucky enough to capture these pics. Friday May 24, 2019. Cottonwood, Ca.

  7. I lived up there for 45 years and never saw hailstones that large.
    Yeah, the weather in that area is a little more intense and yesterday evidently was more extreme than usual.
    This is the time of year to expect it though.
    It used to be we'd expect a gully washer sometime over the Memorial Day Weekend.

  8. The Texan smirks! My old truck (totaled last week) was covered in hail dents. Happened two weeks after I moved to Dallas.

    I have a buddy that lives in Anderson. He posted some pics of a rotating cloud formation from that storm. He said he got lucky and put his vehicles under cover just in time.

  9. Surprised the blanket would stay put or that those ice rockets wouldn't break the windshield anyway...still good idea to leave the garage as a safety area for incoming car.

    1. It was the best I could do in the few seconds I had to act. I saved the windshield, but noticed some subtle dents in the hood while driving back to Sac yesterday. I'm glad I didn't get beaned while putting the blankets on the truck.
      By the way, the ladies didn't get there until about an hour and a half later. Mrs. CW didn't believe my story of the hailstones until I showed her the ones I'd saved in the freezer.

  10. I am in Texas. Keep this in the trunk. 2-3 minute deployment with practice.

  11. Loki was reminding you of the coming ice age... and wanted you to have something to drop into your single malt.

    1. Haha....wait, I don't think you're kidding.

    2. Hail sizes and shapes vary depending on conditions inside the thunderstorm; small hailstones may have had only one pass, while larger stones may have made multiple passes through the core and/or may be a combination of smaller stones. The shape of your hail indicated to me (and I am no expert) that there was a very intense updraft with rapid accretion at the drag end of the stone (the wide end) combined with erosion of the leading end. It looked like those stones made multiple passes through the core.

      NOAA has a good primer here:

      See also - the biggest hailstone recorded was 8" in approximate diameter

      tennis ball sized hail can be lethal; you were indeed lucky you did not get beaned! When I lived in Grant's Pass OR, I recall a summer hailstorm in 1983 that covered the ground with stones, and the schools were all let out so that students could see hail; one person in their 40s told me that he had NEVER seen hail at all in his life!