Monday, 9 June 2014

La grêle!

Yesterday was a glorious day warm, sunny and towards the late afternoon quite 'heavy'. France Météo had been warning of possible thunderstorms, so early evening we checked the weather online.

An orange level warning was [and still is] in force in our area [red is the highest] for possible severe thunderstorms accompanied by violent gusts of wind and monsoon-like downpours and/or hail. Before turning in we dutifully switched off all electrical stuff and our internet connection and moved all the outdoor furniture into the lee of the house.

Just before 5am lightning flickered frantically across the sky, the rumbling began and the promised 'rafales' [wind gusts] arrived. In the eerie false dawn light it looked pretty scary. Meanwhile, we were fretting about our two cats who were outside, pre-dawn is their favourite hunting time. Instead of a monsoon downpour, we got hail. Hailstones the like of which neither of us have ever seen, except in news reports.

A 'small' collection of hailstones
Enormous 'grêlons' [hailstones] boinged off the roof, clattered against our upstairs windows and bounced on the grass outside. The noise of them hitting structures was disconcerting, an angry sound as if someone was trying to force a way in.

A seriously large one! Almost 6cm in diameter
Needless to say, Tinka- no sense in wee brain, arrived in our bedroom towards the end of the hail episode slightly damp, but thankfully none the worse for wear. A direct hit could have caused serious damage to a small cat. She seemed totally unfazed by either the lightning or the thunder. Shadow appeared later, dry, having had more sense to shelter somewhere until it was all over.

Two holes, neatly punched through
Earlier we went to have a look to see what damage we had sustained. The roof tiles seem fine; we can't see any cracked or displaced ones. The car too has no damage to the paintwork that we can see and our windows, including the velux, are sound. We heaved a sigh of relief. Amazingly the pot plants out front, including the tomatoes haven't been shredded. However, just now we went to wipe down the outdoor furniture and found that the hail has punched some holes straight through. A couple of chairs and a table have sustained damage.

We consider ourselves very lucky indeed. Certainly compared to the devastation suffered by the Vourvray wine growers last year when they had a similar hailstorm. Fingers crossed we don't get anymore as the orange level warning is in force until early tomorrow morning and the thunderstorms, with and without hail, are predicted to re-appear this afternoon.


15 comments:

Perpetua said...

Crikey! Those are seriously large and damaging hailstones. Your poor garden furniture. :-( My first thought was what would they do to crops. After a virtually frost-free spring we should be in for a very good fruit crop, but hail like that could change the prospects completely. Glad you didn't suffer more damage.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Absolutely. We have a field of ripening wheat to one side and we're keeping our fingers crossed for Eric who farms it -- it is a large field.

About to go offline as the thunder has arrived again :-(

Garden furniture was bought 2 weeks ago ... c'est la vie

ladybird said...

Glad to read that humans, cats and house are fine :) Too bad about the garden furniture, though. We've had several storms like that over the last 48h. So far, nothing serious where I live. It looked really bad 2 hours ago (dark,windy and some heavy rain), but the worst has moved on to the north. Yet, there is more to come ...
P.S. I use an anti-lightning cable for my modem, internet connection and tv. Very handy...

rusty duck said...

Oh la la!
Mammoth hailstones. Keep safe.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - yes we one should get more. Lost power for about an hr around lunchtime when thunderstorm 2 rolled in but no hail only heavy rain :-)

BTW heb je mijn meest recente email [5 juni] gekregen?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Rusty - definitely! Don't fancy another dose of them!
We're keeping our fingers crossed for the crops and vineyards.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Wow I have seen hail like that in S.Africa but not quite as large as that here. We go on holiday this week until July so fingers crossed that the garden and house do not get destroyed while we are away!! Glad that you are all OK. We are also on Orange. Diane

the fly in the web said...

Thank goodness that the cats were O.K.....
Those were distinctly large hailstones and it must have been most worrying to hear the barrage against the house....a pity about the garden furniture but at least the roof and velux were untouched.

Whatever is happening to the weather!

Friends here use anti storm plugs and cable...but it hasn't stopped them losing their modem in the violent storms that we have had here recently.
We had unplugged everything but our modem was stilled grilled when lightning struck next to the house.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - it was a first for us. Have lovely holiday.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - being très rural we just unplug to be on the safe side. We have one of those cables in one of the studies .... but still.
So relieved about cats; the largest were probably egg sized.

GaynorB said...

Looks like it was a mighty storm with hailstones to match. Glad that you haven't sustained too much damage, although damage to your furniture is bad enough. I'm sure it is fairly new stuff.

Tim said...

Bagger (he of the sensitive hearing) was scared by the noise and hid under the bed. We got hail but nothing so big - it sounded like someone throwing buckets of shingle at the windows. I videoed it with my little camera - darkness, flashes of brilliant light, noise! Fingers crossed for tonight. P.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - it was bought a couple of weeks ago.
Alert continues until tomorrow 5am.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Pauline - fingers and toes!

Fredda Dangelo said...

That was quite a problem you had with those hailstones! It can be a quite a sign, though, to inspect the conditions and the quality of your roof in order for you to do the right fortifications to ensure that it lasts such onslaught of nature.

Fredda Dangelo @ Accurate Roofing and Siding