Intense heat shattered by sudden storm

From our May 2012 issue

By Pat Trask – Harris, Sask.

The sun beat down on the parched fields of grain. Five days of this intense heat had shattered any hope for a heavy yield from these fields. Hour after hour, the temperature climbed mercilessly. By 3 o’clock, the mercury hovered at 39° Celsius (102° F).

I climbed the stairs leading from the cool of the basement to check the temperature and see if it was still windy. This afternoon was different. There were no birds rustling through the caragana trees. There wasn’t a dog, cat, or even a chicken in sight. The yard was breathless.

The cement doorstep scorched my bare feet as I stood there. Why was the wind so quiet? Why were no animals in sight? The yearling calves had sought shelter in the pole barn.

Slipping on my sandals, I walked toward the driveway. I liked to watch the sky when we had such extreme heat. To the west, the sky had taken on an ashen shade of gray. The clouds rolling up from the horizon were dark and angry, rolling and tumbling. Sheet lightning flashed all over that threatening sky.

I sat on a stump to watch for a few minutes. The clouds were moving fast. Up, up, up they went, higher and higher. A fork of lightning streaked across the sky like an angry snake. Then, I heard it.

Soft moan spoke of fury to come

It was a soft moan at first, then it grew louder and louder. I ran for the house and had just made it inside when the thrashing wind and rain began.

With a deafening roar, the hail came. The wind stopped. The hail pounded straight down. Little stones, big stones, and all shape of jagged pieces of ice that beat the petunias and marigolds to a wet, soggy mush. The windowpanes rattled, threatening to collapse under the relentless storm.

It seemed like an eternity before the clouds broke. Perhaps it was only three or four minutes, but a lot of damage had been done. Most of the leaves had been sliced from the trees. Not a sign of a flower was left. Most of the garden was completely mashed into the ground.

The storm moved toward the east. Bright sunshine displayed puddles and ditches full of water all around us. The temperature was 15 degrees cooler than it had been.

One field spared

Little banks of icy stones still rested against the tree trunks. Branches and debris were scattered everywhere.

The men had been swathing six miles from home in another field. It had been missed by the storm entirely. A half-hour later, they drove in the yard and were shocked at the destruction.

All of our crops in the path of the storm had been totally hailed out. “Oh, well,” I said to my husband. “Thank goodness we have hail insurance.”

With a stunned look of realization, he turned to me and said, “I forgot to put the hail insurance on!”

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