Palabras Pintorescas: The brief but severe hailstorm

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By Editha Bartley

It is a beautiful July afternoon here in our mountains. The opportunity to open my office door wide, and soak in the sights and smells of a wind-free, cool July afternoon are becoming more rare every year, weatherwise, it seems.

Last July 11, the black clouds joined forces (one came from the west, the other blew in from the east) and in just an hour and a half we had 2.33 inches of rain, which included about two inches of hail. Some of the hailstones were at least an inch in diameter and although that part of the storm didn’t last long, all of our planted flowers and both John’s small vegetable garden and mine are now mostly bruised stems. The big surprise about the event was a Channel 7 TV report on the news that our Gascon station (the 24-hour satellite weather bureau station here) reported this rain event on their evening newscast.

This brief but severe storms caused some flooding, obviously. To our very real surprise, Camp Davis, just a mile up the road, did not get the hail. And the pavement was dry just a bit over a mile down Highway 518.

About the time I think I understand what our weather is doing, along comes a storm like this and I realize accurate weather predicting is still just a game and a gamble. Fortunately, storms like this don’t happen very often.

The aspens, pines and firs shed very few needles. They know how to bend in a storm and I wish my peas, potatoes and onions had the same makeup when in comes to storm resistance. Some of my friends question why I plant seeds so close together. Because of bugs and hail storms I may get few turnips, beets and chard leaves later on. Gardens do come back, but I suspect my six pumpkin plants are doomed. The zucchini plants didn’t fare any better. May the farmers market growers fare better than we did this year.

The Rociada area, just four miles south of this ranch, got hit hard and with a huge hail storm in 1993, if memory serves me right. Snowplows were needed to push the banks of hail off the highway and hail was piled up along the north-facing homes for several days.

And there are always lightening storms with these weather events. I have been caught in some of these thunderstorms when riding and serving as the wrangler when taking a bunch of dudes horseback riding on our high mountain trails. I don’t miss any part of that scary experience and will always be thankful we made it safely back to headquarters without being struck by lightening.

In closing, thank you, my readers for your kind and loving words of sympathy. Your cards, letters, notes and phone calls were so appreciated by both me and my family. Tinta Negra, the 14-year-old ranch dogs sends wags and barks of thanks from her heaven as well. Yes, she does rest in peace, finally.

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.