I knew it would happen. In a year where I have had plenty of time to weed, water and putter in the garden, everything was looking wonderful and picture perfect. I had resisted snapping a photo of the luscious sea of green in fear I would jinx it.
Well, I should have done it anyway so I could have a before and after. After Thursday night/Friday morning our immediate neighborhood looks a bit tattered and torn. That four-letter word, hail, hit in a pop-up thunderstorm that no one was expecting.
A cold front had blown through the night before but those storms, also filled with wind and hail, had gone either north or south of us. Although we really were needing a rain if it was going to come with ice, both Hubby and I said we’d pass and keep on irrigating.
When we went to bed Thursday night there were no storms in the weather forecast. So when the weather alert blasted us awake at 1 a.m. we took a few minutes to come out of our deep sleep haze. A severe thunderstorm was just entering the northwestern part of the county, moving right down Highway 30 from North Platte.
The potential for 80 mph winds and golf-ball size hail was enough to clear our addled brains. We took a look outside and the muggy, stifling air and constant rumble from the west told us this was unfortu-nately the real deal.
I scrambled around and got both pickups, my car and my daughter’s car in the shop. Unfortunately our intern lodger had locked his pickup and had the keys in his room so there was nothing we could do for him. I then grabbed all my potted plants from the steps and moved them inside and woke up the dog (she’s 11 and was oblivious to the approaching storm) and moved her into the garage.
By the time I had gotten all that done the wind was coming up. The chill in the air and the persistent lightning let me know this was not going to end well. Sure enough, 10 minutes later the wall cloud hit and we had wind, hail and the ferocious lightening always associated with Nebraska storms.
Somewhere in all the racket, including the breaking of a huge branch out of our east walnut tree, in-tern Sam woke up and dashed through the hail and rain to get his pickup in the shop. He was soaked from his ice shower and had to change clothes. He then tried to get some more sleep before his 5 a.m. wake up call to get to the feedlot.
Thankfully the hail lasted only about three minutes and was small – mostly penny and dime-sized. But the next morning we could see the damage to the corn was severe enough to call the crop adjuster. For some reason the soybeans were largely untouched, leaving us to believe the hail came mostly sideways with the wind.
The corn was about one week from tasseling so now we are holding our breath on the two fields most severely damaged to see if those tassels will push through for pollination or not. If they do, the losses will be less. The two-week waiting game is tough. But as always there are folks who had it worse.
At Gothenburg, 30 miles west of us, there are stretches where the corn was mowed off at the ground. Only sticks remain of plants in a number of soybean fields. Cozad, just 15 miles away, had tremendous tree damage and of course many more gardens like mine are in limbo as we wait to see what will sol-dier through the damage.
A friend in the Sandhills waved the white flag last night. They seem to have had a bulls-eye at their ranch this summer. They had hail in June and then again three times in one night last week and again last night. Their garden is toast and they now face replacing siding, a roof and a skylight all broken and torn up by the series of storms.
My garden is more wind-whipped than hail damaged because the shelterbelt on the north side stopped a lot of the hail. But I will be busy pulling up peas as they were snapped and pitted, digging up onions as with the tops all broken off they won’t be growing anymore. The tomatoes will grow back, but I need to clip off broken branches for clean cuts so they don’t start rotting. Today there will be a stop at the farm store for some insecticide. The insects have found the injured vines and stems, and we need to stop any further damage.
Not a pleasant event, but as with everything in 2020, we also know we are not alone and join in our battles with Mother Nature together.