Tag Archives: hail

Waiting Out The Storm…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela

Yesterday, my daughter and I were caught in a horrific, violent hail storm down the street at the local shops and we were absolutely terrified.  With six sleeps til Christmas and desperately trying to find something, anything for our 14 year old son, we’d trawled through almost every local shop, and were heading back for the car when the storm hit with unanticipated fury. By the time we realized how dangerous it was, it was too late. My daughter was telling me to walk faster, the same way I must’ve done when she was smaller. However, due to muscle weakness in my legs, I couldn’t. I could only go at my own pace. She might’ve only been a step or two ahead, but then she decided to cross the road at the pedestrian crossing, and that was when the hail started to fall. I have an performance enhancement device in my skull (otherwise known as a shunt) and I couldn’t chance it been hit by a hailstone, quite aside from the fact that hail can even kill your average Joe. Well, it’s probably more likely to kill your average Joe teenager, because I saw a few of them running across the road during the storm. Anyway, this all meant that my daughter was across the road by herself, while the sky was throwing a massive tantrum and pelting hail like an angry toddler. Although she’s now 12 and in high school, I knew she was terrified and wanted me with her but it was too dangerous. Fortunately the owner of the $2.00 shop took her under her wing and brought her inside.

As a writer, I know how to dramatize a story, inflating and colouring in the facts in lurid technicolour to ramp things up. However, this storm didn’t need embellishment. It’s terrifying violence and the deafening din of thousands of hailstones beating against the tin roofs of the local shops, spoke for themselves. Indeed, it reverberated through you like the sound of a thousand timpanis all beating at once.  The hail was really pelting down too, seemingly angry and lashing out at the earth. These hail stones ranged in size from about 3cms to tennis balls size around 8cm and some were even shaped like a cauliflower. At 5cm diameter, hail travels at 115kph and at 8cm it’s travelling at 175kph. So when you think about what all of that was doing to my heart rate along with being concerned about my daughter, our son at home and how the car was faring out in the open, a few Italian musical terms come to mind…accelerando, affrettando, prestissimo and forte! Forte! Forte!

Yet, right along the street, there were people photographing the storm with their phones, the same way we also photograph bush fires dazzled by the exquisite beauty of the flames, experiencing the intensity of nature’s fury and also that sense of hovering right on the very brink of destruction. That as much as we might want to turn our back and run, it lures us in…especially anyone passionate about photography or film. We’re in without even considering the cost.

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

dog in the storm

Taken just before the 2015 hail storm hit. Not a good time to walk the dog! It wasn’t one of ours.

This little black duck might’ve got caught out photographing a hail storm at our local beach a few years ago, and a massive rain storm in between. I don’t do this anymore. Well, not on purpose. This time I was simply caught out.

Anyway, naturally the hail stopped and it was safe for me to cross the road, collect my daughter and drive home. This is in the middle of a hot Australian Summer and yet here we were in a magical Winter wonderland. It was an early white Christmas.

However, this has turned into more of a Christmas subtraction for a lot of people, than a Christmas gift. We arrived home to find the roof of the office had been peppered with holes and the rain was getting in. It was nowhere near as bad as the last destructive hail storm three years ago where a tree also fell down. However, the rain was getting in and computers and paperwork were at risk. The car didn’t fare too well either. While we have friends with broken windows or a windscreen, our car is covered in pock marks, especially the bonnet. We’ve only had this car for a few weeks after I drove into a concrete divider in the hospital car park and that car was written off. It seems like I’m not having a good run with cars, although I wasn’t driving this one and the important thing is, that we’re all safe.

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I must admit that I’ve felt very shaken up by this storm. When you think about the effects of a relaxing massage, this was more like a jack hammer and quite the reverse. I also felt very unsafe walking through the heavy rain and my legs felt quite inadequate and like they couldn’t grip and I was wearing ice skates. I slept through much of today and really didn’t feel like getting out of bed. It felt safe. Fortunately, I didn’t need to go out and I just stayed home to chill out and clean up. It was my daughter’s first day of school holidays and our son’s had a few extra days. Not a great start, and we’ve been trying to see The Grinch. Maybe, tomorrow.

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“Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.”

Ho Chi Minh

“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

Frederick Douglass

After every storm the sun will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.

William R. Alger

Yet, reading through motivational quotes about storms, I realize that they’re a necessary part of life. That they don’t last forever, and it wasn’t long before the sun came out. However, there’s no denying the damage. You can point to the sun, the rainbow, but you can also point out the smashed windows, terrified people and animals and you can’t just wave a magic wand and it all disappears without a trace. Yet, every time you survive either a physical or psychological storm, you’re better equipped to deal with and overcome the next one. You have experience and you also have this much valued thing called resilience. You don’t get that by sitting in your armchair and watching the storms pass by on TV or your phone.

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“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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Sunset after the storm viewed through our Norfolk Pine tree.

How do you feel about storms, both of the weather and psychological variety?

Well, it’s well past my bedtime so it’s time to stop philosophizing and start snoozing.

Best wishes,

Rowena

After the Storm…A Fire in the Sky.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

– Rabindranath Tagore

There’s an element of luck, but also a trained and experienced eye which not only seizes the moment but captures it from a particular perspective which brings out the drama, that sense of theatre and draws the viewer into a compelling story.

Sky on Fire

“Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

Of course, I’m really chuffed about these sunset photos I took last night while we were at the Christmas party at the sailing club. As much as I’ll push the envelope to get the shot, I’ve developed a healthy respect for storms and my days of pursuing menacing, deep purple storm clouds with trailing tentacles are done, after getting caught in a ferocious hail storm down at the beach where my car felt like a flimsy tin can and wondering whether the windscreen was going to hold out while the hail had smashed through the laser light roof over our office at home and the kids were terrified. Thankfully the State Emergency Service (SES) came to the rescue and put up a tarp.

Jonathon & Amelia

Our kids.

This was our second storm in two days and while we were relieved not to have any hail, we arrived home to a blackout and Ausgrid was giving no time estimation on when the power was coming back on. That clearly didn’t look good and with my parents and aunt coming up to visit today and needing to get the house in order, my stress levels soared. Not quite through the roof, but I was definitely considering going down to Sydney instead to let ourselves off the hook. While you should be able to invite family into your mess and chaos, the reverse is usually true for most of us and anyone would think we were prepared our homes for a royal visit. Well, I wasn’t going to be the one to break with tradition and started cleaning up what I could by torch and candlelight. As time stretched on, the kids and I even ended up in the car charging my phone and reading a book. My husband was more sensible and had an early night.

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The power came back on at 11.00pm and of course, I was still awake and literally burning the candle but relieved to put it out. While candlelight might be romantic, it doesn’t take the place of electricity and can’t bake a cake. That had to wait til this morning.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Surviving the Storm at Ocean Beach.

Everybody perceives the world through their own lens and reacts in  their own way. While those who like to be prepared and take precautions might check the weather bureau when they see a storm front, I grabbed my camera jumped in the car heading to the beach to get the shot. One hell of a storm was brewing with a towering bank of deep purple clouds contrasting with perfect blue sky, creating a photographic opportunity too good to miss. I jumped in the car and drove down to the beach as fast as I could within the speed limit and without hitting any of the gazillion ducks and their offspring, which have taken over the streets.

The Lifeguard's board wasn't much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

The Lifeguard’s board wasn’t much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

Once I was down on the beach in photography mode, seeing the world through 6x 4, I was so focused on  capturing those shots that I didn’t even question whether those clouds were harbingers of doom. That those kind of clouds, the really spectacular ones, mean business…a severe storm and it’s not the sort of thing you want to get caught up in.

Not a good time to walk the dog! It wasn't one of ours.

Not a good time to walk the dog! It wasn’t one of ours.

I was still on the beach when large, heavy raindrops started plopping down in quick succession. With no time to wait, I headed back to the car. By this stage, the wind had whipped up and was sweeping up the track. The wind was getting strong. No sooner than I’d made it back to the car, when hail started pelting down sounding like machine gun fire. It was truly terrifying especially as I watched in horror as the hail belted against the windscreen and I wondered just how strong that glass was. Was it going to smash. With the storm hitting the beach front right in front of me and being completely unprotected, the car really took a beating and I hoped it was all going to be okay.

I also made a mental note…no more storm chasing. This was the second time I’d been caught in a storm with my camera and after a surfer was struck by lightening recently, I now know that I need to take these storms a lot more seriously. Photos are not worth dying for!

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Mister showing off the hail.

Another not so minor detail involved the kids. They’d decided to stay home. We’re only minutes from the beach so not a big deal except there I was bailed up in the car with hail the size of golf balls battering down while they were at home. It was too treacherous to drive and I was naturally wanting to get back and so decided to chance it and drove home through the hail…quite a feat for such a nervous driver.

The streets and gardens were covered in 5-10 centimetres of thick hail. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to having snow and it would’ve been incredibly fun for the kids, if these same “golf balls” hadn’t smashed multiple holes in our back roof. While the Laserlite is great for letting the sun through, it had become brittle and bam.

The roof was leaking like a sieve.

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Mister was on the phone to Emergency when I finally made it through the door, totally drenched. The kids took me out the back, to what we call; “The Green Room”. My desk is positioned against a huge window overlooking the garden and my keyboard was literally swimming. The file cards I’ve actually been using for “The Book Project”, had also gone for a swim and my Paris diary, which has survived 22 years including being carted around Europe in my backpack, was also a tad wet.Photo albums, computer equipment and more clutter than you could ever imagine, all getting drench in the line of fire.

I called Emergency back and called the State Emergency Service. They;re the incredible volunteers who risk their own personal safety to put tarps over leaking roofs in the middle of awful storms without being paid a cent. We ended up with 4 SES volunteers out in the yard with one up the ladder or on the roof. Such relief, especially as Geoff was at work and Mister was wanting to be the hero. Get up on the roof and fix the holes himself.

Another point I haven’t mentioned, is that having all that water inside and slippery surfaces is treacherous for people with mobility issues. I fall easily enough without assistance and after breaking my foot in a fairly basic fall, I’m also conscious that such falls aren’t a laughing matter!

Rescue.

Rescue.

I’m proud of our efforts coping under such adverse conditions. We really were thrown in the deep end and had to think about how to best overcome the leaks. I pulled out the shower curtain and used it to cover the book shelf, which was still dry but I didn’t want to take any chances. We put a tarp over my desk once we’d cleared everything off. My daughter, who was incarnating her Cub Scout leader, was sorting out where to put the umpteen containers we required to catch the drips. She did a great job. Mister also did well. He was very concerned about how other people we going and I had to keep reminding him that we’d lost our roof and had our own crisis. It was great, however, to see his community-mindedness.

Thank goodness for the State Emergency Service!

Thank goodness for the State Emergency Service!

Thank goodness Geoff arrived home while the SES was here and he was able to dig out some sheets of iron sheeting to stick over the top. They screwed it down and put sandbags and boards on top to hold it down and even applied some silicone to plug the gaps.

We are so incredibly grateful.

After going through all of this…being stuck in the hail storm, the damage to the roof and all that rain in the house and having to move all that stuff and the damage…I have some incredible photos…and a couple of containers of hail in our freezer and a lot of hard work ahead.

xx Rowena