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.