My golly gosh! Yesterday evening was SO exciting, to say the least! It was crazy!
It all began when I was sitting at my desk, desperately trying to access my e-mail (our ISP has been down for a few days...who knows why...). I noticed, that my family were all standing in the entrance to our garage chattering. Now, my family is a little odd, I'll admit, but even for them, this is not normal behaviour. Thus, I got up and went to investigate.
They had just returned from doing the weekly shopping and thus had all clustered around the boot (trunk) of the car. But they were facing the wrong way. They were all facing the garden with their backs to the newly acquired shopping. I walked forward, trying to hear what they were all saying. As I got closer I suddenly realised that they were talking about hail and, looking around, I realised that it was beginning to hail.
Now, anyone who has ever spent some time, during summer, in the Gauteng region will be able to tell you that the area is bombarded frequently by massive thunderstorms - many of which, hail is an integral part. However, this time, the situation was very different. Most of our storms begin with a little thunder, rumbling away in the distance, like a flatulent co-worker tottering down the passage. This is usually followed by rain, which steadily strengthens in it's force and eventually culminates in hail. This time, there was no thunder, no rain, nothing. There were suddenly millions of little comets, plummeting down from above to slay any innocent leaf that was fooling enough to remain attached to it's parent plant.
Luckily for us, my mother had a moment of paranoia and insisted that we cover my car with something to protect it from the hail. My car is the only car in the family that lives outside, so it's the one that battles most in winter to get started and it's also the one that gets nailed by the hail. My mom found an old carpet lying about in the garage and we hurtled out to throw it onto my car. As we were in the process of straightening out the carpet, we realised, to our horror, that a carpet was not going to be enough! The hailstones that were crashing down all around us were getting to be about the size of a small apricot, only a lot harder and certainly not as pleasant.
Oddly enough, right next to the car was a pile of roof tiles that had been taken off our roof to be cut to make way for our new solar-pannel geyser. They had been replaced on the roof, so there was no gaping hole or anything. Immediately, my mother and I began to place these over the car (and it was a good thing we did too!). As we placed the last tile, things got scary...
Massive shards of ice began to fall all around us. These balls of chilly death were about the size of a golf ball, only they were larger and most were covered in very sharp, icey projections. Take a look at the picture. This is my sisters had with some of the hailstones in it:
By the end of the storm, which carried on for a good 10 minutes or so, the devistation was like nothing we have ever experienced before! The trees had been stripped of half their leaves, there were broken windows, about 7 dead birds were on our lawn and the solar panel was certainly a thing of the past. Apparently three people were killed last night during this storm, but it is still not clear how they died (walking around in the hail, car accidents as a result of the hail...?). We spent all of today cleaning up and trying to get our home looking more like a Bedfordview house and less like it was translocated for New Orleans following the floods. Check out the pics:
Our ill-fated solar panel...
The ill-fated solar panel complete with hailstones-del-los-muertos and a matchbox for scale.
Believe it or not, there is in fact a driveway beneath all that green!