You win some, you lose some: an afternoon hailstorm

It was a humid and overcast afternoon last week–it wasn’t out of the ordinary in any way, really.  The kids and I were doing our usual late-afternoon stuff, preparing dinner, cleaning off the table, tidying up a bit.  Amalia was getting a cello practice in.  The laundry was on the line.  All my flats of seedlings were outside.  Timothy’s pick-up truck was in the driveway, as was our Suburban.

Suddenly it started raining, big fat drops, lots and lots of them. Mack and I stopped what we were doing to gaze out the window for a moment. We love rain. Since last summer especially, we adore rain.

“I didn’t know it was even supposed to rain today,” said Mack.

“I think there was a 20% chance, is all,” I remarked.  “We could use a little moisture, I guess.”

As we stood and watched, the rain picked up until it was in the “deluge” category.  I caught my breath. I was feeling a little frightened.  A little “Where’s the Ark?”-ish feeling.  Our mouths hung open as we backed away from the windows a bit.  I grabbed little Mack’s hand.  The rain hit the roof and gushed out of the downspouts and overflowed from the gutters.  It was coming down too quickly now for the gutters and downspouts to handle it.

And then just as quickly, the rain changed to hail.  It took me just a moment to push my hanging mouth closed, and to rush out to get the vehicles into the garage. Timothy raced out to get his truck under cover.  The hailstones got larger and larger, and I abandoned the idea of getting my trays of seedlings in.  Soon the ground was completely white, and hailstones were still coming down, landing with hundreds of little thuds against the windows and the roof, and bouncing up like rubber balls when they hit the ground.

Here's our driveway right after the hail stopped.

Here’s our driveway right after the hail stopped.

And then, just as soon as it all started, the hail tapered off and was done, and then the rain stopped, too. The whole thing took less than twenty minutes.

The kids and I stumbled out, now that it was safe, to look at the sight of all that hail, and to take stock of the damage.  It didn’t really occur to me until I went outside, but I discovered that my garden was a wreck.  It’s been some time since we’ve had a storm exactly like this one, and it was quite a surprising and destructive thing.

Furthermore, my parents who live in town (a little over a mile away) had a few hailstones and about a third of an inch of rain, while we had nearly an inch of rain out here.

Of course you know it’s my policy never to complain about rain.  Never. 

But I’ve never said that I wouldn’t  complain about hail.

I’ve seen bigger hailstones, and so, probably, have you. But these sure did pack a punch.


Isn’t this something? This pile of hail was underneath the downspout and stayed there. The stones weren’t entirely melted until late the next day.


I don’t think these seedlings will recover . . . .


The leaves that were pummeled from the trees littered the ground.


All my lovely tomatoes were bruised and cut! Oh, the humanity!

The tomato plants were shredded.  Alas.

The tomato plants were shredded. Alas!

Some of the laundry got an extra scrubbing with tiny icy balls.

Some of the laundry got an extra scrubbing with tiny icy balls.


Oh, my poor Swiss chard! (“Bright Lights,” by the way, is the variety.)

The sunflower leaves looked like lace.


The poor daylilies didn’t look the same.


Ah well. Even the hail can be beautiful, can’t it?

My ancestors, the settlers who took a great chance to move here to the Midwest and stake a claim of land, sight-unseen, were so brave.  I’m so thankful that this tough-it-out legacy is part of my heritage.  For me, a sudden hailstorm is a bit of a disappointment:  I was going to harvest kale, dill, and rhubarb to take to farmer’s market the next day, and the hailstorm took care of that.  My garden was so battered and bruised that there was nothing I could have taken to market, not last week and possibly not this week, either, but I know that my garden will recover.

I’ll throw the battered tomatoes to the chickens, but there are plenty of new blossoms setting on and there’ll be new tomatoes to look forward to. My great-grandparents might have lost their year’s harvest from such a storm, and might have had to subsist on much less for the winter.

You can still hear this stoic attitude among people who live in our area, who have grown up hearing it from their farming neighbors and family.

“Oh well, these things happen.”

“It is what it is.”

“You win some, you lose some.”

“It’ll come back.”

It has been nearly a week now since that freak storm, and most of my garden plants are starting to rally.  New curly leaves are sprouting out of the crowns of the kale plants, and my rhubarb plants are beginning to perk up a bit, though nothing will heal those big broken leaves.  I’ve studied the tiny apples and young peaches, and they are certainly damaged, but I’m hopeful that they’ll recover, too.

We’re not losing sleep over it, in any case.  After all, “These things happen.”

39 thoughts on “You win some, you lose some: an afternoon hailstorm

  1. Carrie

    Wow! That’s some crazy hail, Amy! We’ve had oodles of rain this summer, so much better after the last one, but the mosquitoes are carrying us away. Guess it’s always something…

  2. Sara

    Nature is CRAZY!!! (And it’s getting crazier and crazier – scary.) Beautiful Banner shot though. There is massive flooding in Toronto right now – like, BAD. I am so sorry that happened Amy. You’re poor tomatoes and peach trees. I’m sure everything will recover.

  3. Cara Lyn Erickson

    Wow! Looks like it was a rough one. Sorry about your plants and all of that hard work ruined. A similar storm swept through our area a couple years ago. We got a new roof out of the deal though!

  4. Chef William

    You are blessed with the pioneer spirit which is what it will take for those that wish to survive in the coming years. I don’t like to sound like Dr. Gloom but the weather is changing and foods in the stores are being poisoned while they are on the vine, so we all need to go back to living from the land. You are way ahead on the learning curve. You may have a few less home grown tomatoes, peaches etc. this year, but you will have some and your family will eat healthy. A couple of weeks ago you wrote about thinning the crop..this week you got some outside help. You’ll do fine.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Chef, that did occur to me that some naturally thinning didn’t hurt my fruit trees. The peach trees, in particular, are just loaded, and I would guess that the number of little peaches that were knocked out of the trees by the hail will result in better, bigger peaches left on the tree.

  5. Stacy

    We experienced a hailstorm like that a few years ago. The hail was bigger…2-3 inches across! We survived the storm and fortunately it was before the gardening season, but afterward was something else. Literal convoys of contractors began arriving in the area and canvassing neighborhoods door to door. You would not believe the number of buildings sporting new roofs and siding. It took a ful two years to see the last of the contractors and while most were on the up and up, some weren’t and people are still trying to recover their losses.

  6. Debbie

    Wow, I’ve seen a few hailstones in my life but nothing as compared to yours. It really amazes how mother nature can take so much away from us within minutes. It’s times like these that we learn to truly appreciate what we do have in life. When your plants recover this event will be nothing but a distant memory. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Donna

    WOW! This has been some crazy year for weather. Around our area the heat has been unbelievable. NE PA usually has a lovely springtime the mild to occasional hot summers. It has been near or above 90 more days this year that in a long time.
    I had tried to get a garden going this year, but alas, the gophers wore me out. We will put up proper fencing, fill the holes, and put gopher resistant fencing along the bottom of the garden for next year.
    I hope you end up with a nice crop despite this set back :). Farmers/gardeners are very resilient!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I agree about the freaky weather, but I MUCH prefer freaky weather to last year’s drought and record heat! Gopher problems? I’m sorry about that. That’s one critter we don’t see much of here.

  8. AMummysLife

    That is some freaky sized hail, Amy! I don’t think I’ve actually seen anything so big. We usually only get some the size of a little fingernail. And your poor garden! Glad most of it is starting to recover.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Well, Patricia, I’m surprised that you have hail at all, since you live in New Zealand . . . 😉

  9. DinoMama

    We NEVER have hail over here in Singapore until couple of weeks ago in June’13. We were having a bad weather condition caused by forest fire in our neighbouring country. We were praying for wind and rain to chase the haze away then we got it, wind, rain AND hail! We thought it was due to cloud seeding by the government by they announced that they were not doing any. Imagine the surprise we had when it hit us. Of course some cars were hit by those stone ice, not a lot of damage, no one was hurt too.

  10. Tracie B.

    I just love the how powerful God is! The hail made for some very pretty pictures. We have been having severe weather around here (NC) as well – LOTS of rain, flash floods, & mini tornadoes.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Yes, Tracie, God’s power (and creativity! and sense of humor!) is certainly displayed oftentimes through the weather! 🙂

  11. Alana (@RamblinGarden)

    Oh, Amy! The smaller hail in the hand is probably the largest we’ve gotten since living in upstate NY. It was two years ago June and there are pictures on my blog. The same summer we got an earthquake (minor) and a flood. Our memories of hail in Kansas are a bit different. I know your plants will (mainly) recover but you didn’t need the setback. Yes, you have to be philosophical. Good luck!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      That hailstorm did one really great thing for me, that is, it made me REALLY thankful for my garden (instead of seeing it as a big burden, as I can at this time of year) and I treasure it more than ever, as it struggles to right itself after the storm.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks, Francene! Our weather here in Nebraska has been described as “hostile,” and sometimes I agree with that!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I feel the same way. That’s why, I suppose, the kids and I just stood and watched that hail. It IS fascinating how one minute it can be raining, and the next little balls of ice are falling down on you. Painful, but fascinating.

  12. Debbie

    You were right not to complain about the rain.
    We all need the pioneer spirit when it comes to the weather.
    Hope most of your crops come back.
    Today we got fresh cherries from the cherry farm by us. They didn’t have
    cherries the last 2 years because of the weather. It didn’t stop them. Last year
    they planted another field of cherries and now this year they have alot of cherries.
    We froze some today and on Sunday I hope to got back and get some to can for pie.
    Hang in there. Our garden is very slow in coming this year. We are finally getting lettuce and radishes… Usually by now it is to hot for them.

    We need to roll with the punches. smile.
    I would like to meet you in person sometime.

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