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Crow’s Nest: After two hailstorms

May 22, 2014

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

hail storm

Wow. This was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Two heavy hailstorms separated by a few minutes of sun. Just wondering, how do you count the depth of precipitation when it is hail?

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The ground is completely covered by hail here. The green is not grass but leaves torn off the trees above. Even now, five hours later, there are still patches of hail unmelted on the ground (and it was 80 degrees when the storm hit).

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The rate of precipitation was also unusual. The flooding after just a few minutes was more typical of that of hours of rain.

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Between the storms it was lovely. But the perennials at the base of the sign are stripped of leaves.

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I was inspecting damage when the second storm hit. It was pretty scary to be in the truck, especially in the woods. I took refuge at a neighbor’s house. Northside Road, pictured above, is covered in leaves, hail and fog.

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The storm washed the hail, and no small amount of topsoil from the farm fields, downhill into piles in the cattle pasture. (The steers had the good sense to take shelter in their shed, and our chickens that were free ranging were fine.)

hail storm

This weather makes one think about the resilience of systems. Plants and animals displayed remarkable endurance over this year’s difficult winter, and many will spring back fine from the damage today. Pastures and woods will rebound, though this year’s growth ring in trees might be a bit smaller since they just lost so much of their photosynthetic surface. Hayfields might be okay. Row crops didn’t fare so well—the young corn plants got pummeled and the some of the bare soil washed downhill out of the fields. Pollinators might find conditions difficult as many flowers were stripped off of plants.

hail storm

Our vegetable garden has gone largely unplanted so far this year, as we had baby rabbits born in the raised beds, and we were waiting for them to leave (and to fix the fence) before planting. It’s just as well, much of it would have been lost today. Perennial gardens around the house and barnyard are much diminished compared to this morning.

hail storm

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