Hail Summer!

We were driving to a destination that is about an hour away from our home yesterday in the sweltering heat of almost a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Not unusual for this time of year here in Iowa, for it is summer after all. The sun was gloriously shining when all of the sudden the sky turned gray. Maybe it was more than gray. Black clouds abruptly hid the sun and flashes of lighting started streaking across the horizon.

The temperature dropped more than 40 degrees in a matter of minutes. Strong gusty winds blew dust from the farm fields and torrential rain poured down making road visibility very difficult.

Then we heard loud pelting sounds on the windshield and roof of our car. Hail!

Some motorists sought shelter under the bridges, but we continued to drive, albeit slowly. We took a wrong turn and got delayed a little to where we were supposed to go.

Perhaps it was Divine providence that we got lost for when we arrived at our destination, people there told us that we just missed an awful hail storm. What we encountered on the road, which was marble-sized hail, was not bad compared to what it could have been if we did not get “lost.”

Leaves and branches from the trees loitered the ground. The cornfields were whipped down. Many of the parked cars in the area when we arrived had dents, and windows and sidings of the houses were damaged from the hail.

Here are some hailstones on the ground.

Here are bigger ones.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hailstones form when strong currents of rising air, known as updrafts, carry droplets of water high enough that they freeze. The higher these droplets get, the cooler the temperature, even during a hot summer, that in fact, warmer weather might actually result in a stronger updraft. The hail falls when the thunderstorm’s updraft can no longer support the weight of the hailstone, which can occur if the stone becomes large enough or the updraft weakens.

Can you imagine if you’re hit with these golf-size hail coming to you at more than 100 miles per hour? That would be serious “bukol”(swelling).

But the storm did not last that long. In less than 30 minutes the sun was shining again, as if nothing have happened. Except for the cracked windows and car dents for souvenir.

Hail summer!

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(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Against the Wind

Our weather had been crazy lately. One day it was spring, with cool, crisp temperature in the 50’s F. Then came summer, hot and in the 80’s F. Then back to winter with cold winds at 30’s F with lots of snow in the forecast. And all of that in a stretch of few days. That’s Iowa weather for you.

When there’s wild swings in the temperature with warm and cold air colliding, this causes unstable condition, and sudden thunder storms, or hailstorms, or even tornadoes can erupt. In fact, few days ago, some parts of Iowa had storms with ping-pong-size hail. Good thing no tornadoes have developed, yet (emphasis on the yet).

Yesterday, I went out for a morning run. It was really windy, with steady winds of about 30-35 miles per hour, with occasional gusts nearing 40 miles per hour. That was not considered a storm still. It was just a normal Iowa windy day. (A strong tropical storm has sustained winds of 39-73 miles/hour; 74 miles/hour or more, then it is considered a hurricane; while tornadoes can reach a wind speed of more than 300 miles/hour.)

While I was running inside our housing community, I did not feel the gusting winds right away, as the trees and houses blocked some of it. However when I went out to the lonely dirt road that was part of my running route, I experienced then the full effects of the wind force. The dirt road was in the vast open, with miles and miles of empty (still early for planting) corn fields, with nothing to block the gales.

It was bad enough that I was running against the wind, but the worst part was that the strong gust was causing dust clouds. I thought of turning back, but that will be a longer way to go, so I decided to move on.

It was not easy running against the wind, I can tell you that. That 1-mile stretch of dirt road that I usually cover in 10 minutes, took me forever to run. At least that’s how long it felt. But I made it through.

In life, sometimes we feel that we are running against the wind. There will be opposition that will slow us down. They will blow dust in our face. And sometimes adversaries may even completely stop us in our tracks.

We cannot choose the direction of the wind. We can only choose the direction where we want to go. And that means, sometimes we need to run against the wind.