Monday, December 26, 2011

Dear Santa, that's not what I asked for

Our Christmas Day didn't go quite to plan, thanks to the disastrous weather that hit Melbourne in the late afternoon and evening. The weather forecast wasn't all that fabulous, with showers and possible thunderstorms predicted throughout the day. It looked great outside in our yard at 8:00am, but you know, this is Melbourne...

Pfft. Storms...? What storms?
We were spending the day at my sister's house, and the only way to seat 20 people for lunch there is to use the covered deck out the back - not ideal in inclement weather - so we had our fingers crossed that the BoM was wrong. Unfortunately they weren't. But in spite of alternating rain and sunshine, we got through lunch without getting wet. It was hot and sticky, but that's just how Christmas Day ought to be.

So we relaxed and enjoyed plenty of this:

A little of this:

Death by Chocolate
...and lots of this (I was driving):

I love me some fancy water
The sun came out, the temperature rose and everyone was a little hot. After lunch the brothers-in-law hid in the man-cave under the house and drank beer, and all the kids sat around stirring each other while my sisters and I cleaned up. Hey, we got the best deal - it was air conditioned inside!

All up, it was a fun and relaxing afternoon. Then around 4:00pm, one of my brothers-in-law picked up a severe storm warning via his smart phone. It looked like a nasty one, with dangerous hail and flash flooding predicted. And according to the radar images, it was heading straight for us.

We made a quick decision to go home and get the car under cover before it hit. I did NOT want to be caught on the road in that. We made it safely and watched the first storm cell roll across just to the south of us. Ha! Missed us! Number One Son was at a friend's house right in the middle of it, and had protected his brand new car with blankets and sheets of plasterboard that they had lying around after a renovation. He sent me this photo via text, showing that he'd found a good use for the piles of hailstones:

The boy's ingenious!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we weren't so lucky with the second group of storm cells, which blew in shortly after 6:00pm. I was watching the storm front head straight for us. Our back fence is quite high and I'm quite short, so I perched on a stepladder with my camera to take a few shots of the impressive cloud formations (yes, in the wind and yes, with lightning going on not far away. Smart...):

Apparently that nasty-looking colour is an obvious sign of hail
Pretty, but I'd prefer it to be over someone else's house.

I have NO idea what this even is, but it was freaky and moving really fast, straight towards us.

And down it came...

Drifts of hail everywhere

These hailstones are way bigger than they look

Like....THIS big!

I've read newspaper stories in the past about golf ball-sized hailstones hitting Sydney, and thought "Wow!" but this is the first time I've ever experienced it myself. And hopefully the last. As I commented on Facebook, those things were coming in so fast and hard, you'd swear Warnie was bowling them.

Just so that you can share in the full sound-and-image experience, here's a little video footage of some of the worst of the storm:

Then we lost power for two or three hours - of course, just as it was getting dark. Perfect timing.

The end result - two quite badly hail-damaged cars (the one in the garage was fine, of course), shredded trees and plants and a bit of a mess to clean up around the yard. There are tree branches down all around the neighbourhood, but we seem to have been let off relatively lightly. I've been reading about windows, skylights and pergola roofs smashed, not to mention car windscreens. We have friends and relatives with flooded homes and my mum is still without power today, so I suppose we didn't do too badly. Oh - and there was a tornado over in the western suburbs.  O_O

So, not as bad as it might have been, but still a pretty sucky end to Christmas Day. Quite frankly, Santa, I'd prefer a pair of socks, a garish wrongly-sized sequinned t-shirt, or some nasty cheap perfume next Christmas.


Edit: Make that THREE hail-damaged cars. Number One Son's eight-day-old pride and joy didn't escape the mayhem after all. He's not happy....


Katrina said...

OH MY goodness! I have been hearing all about it, but look at the size of those hail stones! Glad you're all ok though x

Kek said...

Thanks, Katrina. We're doing our best to see the positive side - it could certainly be much worse.

Sara said...

Maybe that was just reindeer poo? They got really cold.

Heather said...

Tornado in Epping too! (Not far from you) I caught the tornado on still digital - It was generating it's own lightning over Doreen/Epping. The whole thing looked extremely nasty. I think you got off pretty lightly. Like you I know many with written off cars because of hail damage and that's just in Plenty......... :(

Kek said...

The damaged car tally is now 3....Number One Son thought he'd escaped unscathed but today he can see the dings in his ONE WEEK OLD shiny new baby.

Wow, tornado in Epping, Heather? O_O Maybe that explains the weird things I was seeing in the west. I kept saying to my husband "I don't know what that is, but it's right over Epping and coming this way."

I'll be happy if I never get to repeat that experience.

Kek said...

Sara, I'm sure reindeer would never be so mean. Been cleaning up today, still need to do a proper inspection of our solar hot water panels - but I think they were on the leeward side of the roof. Fingers crossed.

Magda said...

Eegads!! Great pics though. You're getting VERY good with the camera :-)


Debstar said...

This will be a Christmas you won't forget in a hurry. Shame about the cars.

Kek said...

Magda, I wish I'd had a safe, high vantage point to capture more of the storm. It was spectacular - especially the lightning and thunder that followed close on the heels of the hail. If you click through to Heather's blog, she has some great shots from north of us, high on a hill.

Deb, I don't think the insurance companies will forget this Christmas in a hurry either....

Heather said...

Good afternoon!

I've updated the blog with the link.
My blog is located at I hope the link works without the HTML tag thingy!

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