I was looking for pictures of rain for Dawn's Sunday Scrapbook — to cool us down as we come out of one of our driest ever winters and head towards a very long summer. We may not see much rain again until April or May next year, and there are already talks of even more serious water restrictions.
Anyway, as I was enjoying pics of puddles and wet streets, I came upon these pics I took as the Big March 22 Hailstorm swept in from the north.
I was initially alerted by a news bulletin on the car radio that said a severe storm in two fronts was heading south and would cross Perth, and everyone was warned to take cover within the next 15 to 20 minutes.
I just got home as the sky darkened ominously and a strong wind picked up, swirling the clouds in all directions.Will and I went out on to the back deck and then we heard what sounded like a plane engine roaring to the north.The sky (above) turned an eery green — this pic, which also shows the first big hailstones, has not been doctored by me in any way. I later learned a green sky is an indicator of a severe hailstorm; it must be something to do with light refracted through ice.
Within minutes all hell broke loose. We were not in the eye of the hailstorm, but the thunder and lightning were very, very close, and the power station on Bourke Street, just a couple of kilometres away, was struck by lightning with an almighty explosion.
The worst affected areas were in Shenton Park, near the office of the newspaper where I work, and in a line from there to the University of WA, which lost in seconds $1 million worth of historic stained glass in its almost 100-year-old main hall.
The hail damage at work was so bad that we needed an entire new roof. And so many houses near here were similarly damaged, that we've had to wait seven months, until last week, for ours at the Post.
The city's total damage bill is over $1 billion.
The hail was so ferocious it stripped leaves, small branches and bark from trees, covering streets in what looked like mulch and blocking stormwater drains so roads and driveways and houses flooded within minutes. All that on top of hail-pocked roofs that let in torrents from above.
One house near the office was so badly damaged that its owners cannot yet live there. Their neighbour's damage bill was $300,000.
Cars parked outside our office actually floated in floodwater about 60cm deep. People rushed outside to stop them banging into others.
Everyone who was at the office that day has a new car. Their old ones were so battered and dented by the hail that they were written off.
It's amazing no-one was killed.