Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sunday scrapbook

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.

5 comments:

Fairlie said...

I've seen some amazing photos of the storm and the aftermath taken by one of the students from St George's College at UWA. It took quite a hit, and many of the students were without rooms for weeks.

Rattling On said...

When we lived in Moscow there were some incredible thunderstorms.The girls' schools were opposite each other and they were both hit badly, a tree falling on one and lightning going through the classroom window and striking a photocopier at the other. They just thought it was exciting. Dawn

Puppet Lady said...

Wow, that must have been so scary - fancy having the presence of mind to take pictures whilst that's going on! We used to get violent thunderstorms almost daily when I lived in Malaysia - I'd watch (and feel) them approach from my 18th floor apartment. The rain just used to tunnel its way in under the windows! Nothing like this, though!

Karen said...

Ah, memories! Our trees are at last recovering from the hailstorm - although your frangipani from Gloster St (planted next to mine in the front garden) - may never come good. It was literally an extraordinary storm. Lara and I huddled in the centre of the house when the hailstones began to smash windows and send glass flying. Luckily our roof held, and our car was only lightly dinged all over after the stones finally smashed through the carport roof. Afterwards there was a lull, and all our neighbours gathered in the street to swap stories, commiserate and marvel.

Laura Jane said...

It was certainly a remarkable event.

I'm interested to see pics of the green light, and you're right, in the minutes before the storm there was an undersea quality to the light.

You know our story of that day. I have yet to replace/repair the shadecloth that was torn down by the weight of the ice and twigs within. Our car was written off when I had it assessed in August.

It was certainly all neighbours to the fore as we checked on each other in the block, and my neighbour brought in towels etc to mop up the hail and water damage inside our house from the smashed skylight.

Quite a landmark day. Thanks for bringing the scrap book out!