The cartoon above isn't so much a joke as an accurate depiction of what happened at stately Jarlsberg Mansion last Friday.
In other parts of the country, Spring may be heralded by crocuses blooming and robins appearing. But here in Texas, it's not officially Spring until the tornado warning sirens go off.
Happily we did not get hit by an actual tornado, but we still had some excitement when our home was barraged with the largest hail we've ever personally laid our eyes on...
In the picture above, the image on the left was a hole in the storm clouds rotating ominously right over our house. To fully appreciate the butt-cranching nature of this image, you should imagine the sound of the aforementioned sirens (and an echoing amplified voice repeating "tornado! tornado!") and imagine the great feeling of knowing that you don't have a basement to hide in.
Seriously, basements simply aren't a thing you can have here. Builders claim it's because the clay soils expand and contract too much, but we think it's more of a Texas attitude thing: who but a pussy hat-wearing milquetoast needs to hide from weather when you can just face it down John Wayne-style?
Shortly after the swirling picture was taken, the sky decided to go ahead and kill anyone stupid enough to still be standing in their yard. See those hailstones? They're big, but they were even bigger when they first hurtled out of the sky and started destroying whatever they hit. Trust us, when these things are still falling you do not want to run out into the yard to gather souvenirs.
We think we got off pretty lucky: we had a skylight shattered by a direct hit, and we may or may not need the roof re-shingled (we're waiting for an inspection). But on the plus side, we got free sky ice to put in our scotch.
BONUS: THE SHIRT HITS THE FANS
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Seriously, this isn't about making money so much as just having a little fun (hey, if we were smart about business, this wouldn't be a free site).
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It looked like ice cubes to the officers, but it looked like hail to the chief!
I'll cast the first vote for the Busty Ross collection of mens' wear.
I visited Mansfield TX days after a hailstorm years ago. Every car in the lot looked like a slugger had taken a baseball bat to the horizontal surfaces, all non-vertical glass was smashed to pieces! Glad I missed it. Stilt, keep your head down and find another contractor to underground
In olden dayze in Texas while sleeping under the stars on the open prairie it was considered permissible to to cover you face and upper body with your saddle while continuing to sleeping when this stuff fell without loosing your man card ... (probably covered their manhood with their tin coffee cups too)
For once the weather that hit y'all missed us here further North !!! .....
The good news is ya can get the Mercedes ya always wanted at a real discount at the dent and ding sale and if ya are real nice they might replace some of the shattered glass....... Nothing reeks of class like a luxury vehicle beat to hell in a Texas hail storm.....
Sergio... my vehicles still proudly bear the scars of that hail storm ...course we got enough glass replaced to make em legal again.... the new roof on the house is steel this time so we can have a more acoustic version of the next storm .......
Some of the houses my brother-in-law has built would have basements of a foot at most because bedrock is right under the sod imported to make a green lawn. Where I used to live down around Alvarado, I could have had a basement, but for the clay, and those shelters they have are a bit pricey to put in because digging in it is nearly as bad as bedrock.
Now I got a basement, but instead of the sirens of spring, I am dealing with blizzards. we got a measly foot Tuesday night, but I had to run the snow blower while passing a kidney stone.
Being born and raised in Michigan I have lived through many tornados, blizzards, and genuinely nasty weather, but have never seen hail larger than around nickel-sized. I feel so left out.
Here in the mountains of Northern Arizona we get similar weather to what I grew up with except no tornados as they rarely can form over the extremely rugged terrain.
Flagstaff is, however, built on the side of a (supposedly) dormant volcano, so I may have some exciting natural mayhem to view in the future.
Back in Oct 2010 got hit by a hailstorm like that (they were the size of walnuts) in Phoenix, which is not known for hailstorms. Good news was that my insurance company bought me a new roof. One solution to the tornado threat would be to put in a storm cellar. It's old school, not fancy, but will do the job.
Must be nearly 20 years ago, based on the car I was driving... went to spend a w/e w/ the old college roomie in Kankiki IL (apols for spelling) about an hour S of Chicago. Weather was ugly, and getting worse, but I missed the Tornado by turning south as it was headed east - must have passed me by at least 10 mi... Could have got off the road and hid under a bridge when the hail STARTED, by the time it got Golf Ball sized under the bridge was all full... so, full hazard flashers, drive 25 / 30, and pray the windshield does not cave... Driving on show, I've done. Don't care for driving on ice, but I've done that too. I tell ya, frozen ball bearings are NO fun...
And after the rain, the air is all moist and all that ice makes INCREDIBLE fog... Made it, eventually, but it was a trip to remember (obviously)...
Have a friend who grew up in Moscow. 2003/4 ish, we had a Tornado warning, and apparently they don't get them in Moscow, topology is wrong, or somehting. So she writes me, and "I don't know what this is, so I googled, it's some kind of storm?" >"Well, we're planning to watch a movie tonight anyway, I'll bring one"
Twister! (yeah, it was mean)
"THAT'S a TORNADO!?!?!"
>"Well, it's a HOLLYWOOD Tornado - they don't usually get that big..."
About a month or so later, an F5 erased a small town in West TX....
She totally flipped out...
Ah, memories of my years in Paris, TX. You could set your calendar to the first week of May every year, as a tornado either hit town or was within a couple of miles.
Memorable hail for me was pea sized just east of East St Louis and #4 sized in Rocky Mountain National Park. All on a motorcycle.
And so here in south western Virginia it is snowing in April ... again. At least it ain't hail. I guess hail is afraid to fall in the mountains. Hmmmmmmmmm. Tornadoes too.
Loveland Basin got 9" fresh last night. Putting the boards into the truck as we speak.
After living in Okiehoma most of my life, I finally put a shelter in the garage. The entrance is between the cars, so you can access the door without having to back a car out into the weather. And it's 'UGE! Fourteen people can sit knee to knee. But, 14 people listening to the sirens going is not conducive to conversation. Tornado Alley! Glad I don't live on Tornado Freeway.
In for a revealing Busty shirt!
The DFW area gets some really bad weather - that's why we live in the Texas Hill Country ;-)
Many years ago when we lived in Central Florida we were driving our almost brand new Mercedes E320 about 25 miles to have supper with a friend (and a car nut) and show off our beauty. About half-way to the restaurant we got caught in a thunderstorm and it started to hail. There was no where to pull off under a shelter and we had a total feeling of helplessness. Fortunately the hail was only pea size and there was no visible damage to our mega-buck ride.
My son, who lives about 2 miles east of me in Plano (near Coit and Hedgcoxe), got the same size hail as you got. I've never seen any that huge. Luckily, I only got a brief rainstorm. But my stomach was tied in knots with the sirens and all. The hail must have hit in a straight line.
Addendum: Here in northern Oklahoma, we had another series of earthquakes early this morning.
I had a good friend in college who was from India and was in the U.S. for a year. We decided to watch 'The Wizard of Oz' (I had taken it upon myself to introduce her to all of the English classics), and it occurred to me to ask her if she knew what a tornado was before we started. "It's one big wind, right?" Sure, close enough. Then at the tornado scene: "WHAT IS THAT?????"
Egad. Hope the cars were in the garage.
Years ago Mrs. Econ & I lived on the fringe of "tornado alley" where destructive tornadoes were not common but not unknown either, and our home lacked the practical and psychological benefits of a basement. One of the first times a threatening storm system approached, she asked "Were would we go if there actually was a tornado?" My response was "Heaven?" Sometimes I am not as reassuring as a husband should be.
Glad you are okay.
Wow! Things really are bigger in Texas! Being from the edge of the great plains in Wyoming, I've seen my share of tornadoes and hail, but nothing even close to that big.
Hope the roof is OK!
Dear Stilton, For God’s sake, tell the builder to bring a backhoe, concrete, re-bar and some backfill for at least a small bunker, since most twisters are gone in minutes. That excuse is about 90% bullshit. If you have to import an Ironworker to tie the re-bar together, then it will be a bit more. Sorry the builder discouraged you from doing something obviously smart. FYI : Your “pussy-fied home will sell at a premium in no time with a simple 8x10 storm cellar. Honestly, you and family could’ve died. Sorry for gettin all ranty and whatnot. But, WTF.....
@Mike aka Proof- You get a gold star for the "hail to the chief" gag!
@sergio- It's amazing what Texas hail can do to cars. I've seen some video of similar hailstorms in Australia - terrifying! As far as building a storm shelter, basements really don't work around here (the clay soil is why Texans are plagued with expensive foundation repairs), but there are options for a below ground shelter or a "safe room" which can be retrofitted in your garage. We'll be considering such.
@REM1875- REAL cowboys would have whipped out their pistols and shot the hail as it was coming down. (grin) And I may have to consider metal shingles - whenever it hails, it will sound like a Jamaican calypso band!
@JP- I was raised in Indiana and took it for granted that all houses will have basements. Not only do I miss the safety, I miss all that storage space! And yikes - passing a kidney stone while running a snow blower?! Somehow I need to work that into a Johnny Optimism cartoon...
@Geoff King- I'm no stranger to hail, but this was the first time I'd seen stones this size exploding into the earth. That being said, I'd want no part of dealing with a volcano. Let's hope that the "dormant" assessment is accurate!
@jpb252- The downside of a storm cellar is that we'd have to go outside to get in it, which isn't really that appealing during heavy weather (granted, if we saw a funnel the decision would get a lot easier). You can also get them installed in your garage floor, but there are downsides to that, too: last year there was a story about a family who hid in such a below ground shelter. Their garage was destroyed by a tornado, and the wreckage blocked the door (which was even with the garage floor) from being opened. Then the wreckage funneled tumultuous rain water into the air holes of the shelter. Everyone inside drowned.
@Pete (Detroit)- Ouch! You paint a colorful picture of your hail adventure. And as a bonus, while you're getting pelted there's also the likelihood of a tornado out there...somewhere. And your friend from Moscow was right to flip out over tornadoes - especially F5s. Those are monsters!
@Paul- Okay, riding a motorcycle in hail definitely ups the ante. On the other hand, anyone else out in the storm probably envied your helmet!
@Fred Ciampi- Hey, snow can still kill you...it just takes a lot longer to do so.
@TrickyRicky- It's global warming, I tell ya!
That's a hell of an updraft to grow stones that size. Long time ago here in DenCO we had a hail storm of biblical proportions that wreaked havoc everywhere. Friend of mine had a white Subaru that got such a thorough pounding that made it look like it should be in an acne commercial. He wound up painting "Titleist" in red letters on both doors drove it till it fell apart. The manager of our local muni let him park up front all the time as a promo. But, he could never fix that nasty slice ever since.......
@Sortahwitte- Wow, that sounds like a GREAT shelter. My daughter lives in Oklahoma in a second floor apartment, so it's always nail-biting time when bad weather blows through (although she has a contingency plan to get to a safe spot IF she can safely drive in the weather for about 5 minutes).
@Section147- I'll start playing with designs. There are worse ways for me to pass my time than by having Ms. Ross on my computer screen (grin).
@John Canfield- I'm impressed you could keep your car on the road with tears streaming out of your eyes.
@Shelly- Hey, we're practically neighbors! I'm just a bit further east than your son. We were probably listening to the same sirens on Friday. Also, if you heard a voice shouting "get in the house!" that would have been Mrs. J.
@Sortahwitte- I've only experienced one significant earthquake, while visiting Hawaii. The house didn't cave in, but the quake sloshed the coffee out of my cup and scared the crud out of me. It's very, very weird to feel the earth bucking and shaking like that, and it really makes you feel powerless.
@Kate- Your friend has good taste! The tornado in "The Wizard of Oz" is the scariest one ever put on film (fictionally). Movies like "Twister" just annoyed me with their faked up CGI funnels. But a short while ago I went to Youtube and searched for "Wizard of Oz tornado test footage," and scared the bejeezus out of myself all over again!
@John the Econ- One week earlier and my car would NOT have been in the garage. It sat outside for months owing to all the construction materials still in the garage. So I definitely dodged a bullet (or hailstone) there.
The question of "where would we go if there was actually a tornado" is one which people should think about BEFORE the sirens start blaring. When Mrs. J and I lived in a mobile home in Indiana, our plan was to dash across 100 yards of open field and climb under a small bridge that went over a ravine.
When a tornado warning eventually sounded one night and a funnel was coming (the radio announcer was actually screaming for us to take shelter from the radio station staircase rather than staying at the microphone), we put our cat in a box and tried to make a run for it in the driving rain. We stopped abruptly when lightning exploded between us and the bridge...plus we realized that there was something ALREADY under the bridge: raging flood waters! We then crawled under the trailer (about the worst move you can make) and prepared to die. We didn't- but the tornado was a too-close miss!
@Colby Muenster- Sometime in the next half-hour, I'm supposed to have a gentleman here to check out the roof. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
@MattyVac- The problem with the clay soils is a real thing, as my tens of thousands of dollars in foundation repair can attest to. But yes, there ARE some options worth considering. When a funnel is barreling towards our living room window, I don't think I'd take much comfort in my final thoughts being "Yes, but I saved $5000."
@Stilt. Does your clay have a lot of shrink/swell due to moisture content?
I 'watered' my slab home in Paris, TX. Used soaker hoses strung around the exterior along the slab. If you didn't keep it damp you'd have wide cracks in the clay that you couldn't see the bottoms of!
On your pic of the stones does not do justice to what came down, just sharp edges and points, more like the end of a mace. Several years ago wife and I were driving out of the dealership, stopped at the light and the hail started coming down on our brand new ride with less than a mile on it. I ran the red light and got under the bridge across the intersection. Lucky me, no significant damage. Now, the contractor is correct on the ground movement. Again, I know from experience having owned an underground house.
I found out the hard way. Three years later, sold it to some other dufus.
Spring??!! What's that? Still snowing in North Carolina. Spring, huh?
May I never experience baseball-sized hail, Stilt. Never been IN a tornado, but I was leaning against a Personnel Access Hatch on a Minuteman missile silo in '74 watching 5 separate funnel clouds twisting in the distance, ripping up the wheat but not much else - North Dakota is really, REALLY flat and mostly "uninhabited"...
In the winter of '75 I was out in a Gubmint truck in -72 below, winds at 50 gusting to 65, a real howler of a Snert storm and colder'n a Witches... bottom. Coldest I've ever been and closest I've ever been to becoming a corpsicle.
I've been on the 14th floor of a bank building when a 4.3 MMI earthquake hit, THAT was sure exciting. The other one I went through was a 4.1, I was at ground level for that one. Good times!
Rain? Illinois, traveling down the freeway when it started raining like a cow peeing on a flat rock. Had to straddle the white line to stay on the road!
I was on Diego Garcia in '04 when the tsunami wiped out Banda Aceh - it was still 6 foot high when it got to Diego Garcia, but I was the engineer in charge of the seismometer on DG (run by USGS and UCLA, believe it or not!) and could see the data on the earthquake and it was BAD... but not where I was.
Other than Mt. St. Helens blowing ash over to Spokane when it corked off in '80, nothing much in the way of volcanoes and me...
So, I guess I'm lucky! And so are you! ;P
Love the bridge story. Don't you hate it when you discover your best laid plans have a fatal flaw at the worst possible moment?
The house I mentioned above was originally a somewhat diminutive "Sears kit house" built as personnel housing on what was once a Naval air station. Although it had been expanded from its original 900 square feet long before we bought it and was serviceable enough for our needs, it was hardly what I would have called the most robust structure I've ever lived in. I surmised that our best chances probably would have been the bathtub in the original bathroom which was near the dead-center of the house. Fortunately, we never had the need to test that theory.
My closest tornado encounter happened when we were de-facto homeless during our move from the southeast to the northwest. We were in southern Missouri with a U-Haul trailer filled with what didn't go with the movers in tow driving through some of the worst storms I'd ever seen. We finally pulled over because the rain was coming down so hard that it was impossible to see to the end of the hood, much less the road ahead. We were parked for about 30 minutes when the hail started. I immediately rushed across the highway to where there was a gas station with cover over the pumps to spare the car a pounding. As we waited for the hail to subside, I was looking at radar maps on my phone, and noticed what appeared to be the dreaded "hook" appearing to head directly at us. Knowing that the radar image I was looking at was likely at least 5 to 10 minutes old, I quickly surmised that what was creating "the hook" on the image I was looking at was likely right above us about now. I looked up, and sure enough straight ahead at about 1000 to 1500 feet, there was vapor whirling in a counter-clockwise manner under a dark cloud and heading our way. "That's it! We're out of here!" I told Mrs. Econ as I floored it, and drove right under it in hopes that we'd be past it before it had a chance to descend to the ground. I have no idea if it did because I wasn't looking back and I couldn't see well behind us anyway because of the trailer. Less than 5 minutes later, we were in sunshine. That's as close as I care to come to a tornado.
You seem to be a bad luck charm .........
Tornados...ehhh. I once watched a tornado rip the roof off the middle School across the street from me. Yes, I was ignorant enough to be outside at the time watching the whole process. The same twister then jumped completely over the remainder of the town and then touched down on a garage next to a farmhouse in the country outside of town. It did no damage to the house but completely removed the 4 walls and roof of the garage. That same roof was later found in a corn field over 2 miles away. Inside that garage was a vintage Ford Model A, and a completely restored 1956 Chevy Belaire. Neither car got a single scratch on them.
Got caught in a hailstorm in Colorado Springs on my motorcycle. They were about the size of quarters to ping pong balls. Hurt like hell. No place to get cover... when I got home I was bleeding from 3 places on my forehead. Bad day to forget my helmet.
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