Hail Storm: One Year Ago Today

IMGP4961.jpgToday marks the one year anniversary of the August 24th Hail Storm, which brought baseball-plus sized hail down on Northfield, destroying roofs, cars, playgrounds, greenhouses, crops, and more.  Northfield rebuilt quickly and the scars from the hail have been almost completely replaced.

Feel free to post your memories of that day - what were you doing when it hit? How much did you get? What sort of damage did it do?


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Hail memories

I was at home working when the wife called. She said that there were all kinds of news reports about bad hail headed our way and that I should get the car inside.

I ran out as the rain started to fall and moved the car in. A neighbor drove past and I yelled that 'hail was coming'. He stopped and we joked about it for a bit. Then the sirens started going off. Then the first hail stones started to hit.

I figured that I should get my camera as it 'might make a good video'. Little did I know...

Click here to watch the video of the hail coming down.

Right through my decking

Just want to add that hail actually went right through my decking. I had some of the artificial 'UltraDeck' and the hail punched holes right through it.

My deck looked like swiss cheese.

Hail Storm

I work for Northfield Hospital EMS as a paramedic/supervisor and was on duty that day. It was an awesome thing to see and thankfully we only had a couple of calls during the storm and no one was seriously injured, scared mainly. Its a sight I never need or want to see again.

Wham! Pow! Crash!

I was working from home that day instead of up in the cities, which was a mixed blessing. I was glad to be home with my wife & kids during such a freakish event, but it meant that both our cars were smashed up instead of just one!

I was shooting pictures from the porch while the family was down in the basement yelling "what's happening up there?!"

It was unreal

I'll never forget. Aug. 24 happens to be my wife's and my anniversary, and needless to say, we didn't get a chance to celebrate on that day one year ago. We will, tonight however.

We were a single-income family at the time, and I was working from home. My wife came into my office and said, "Webster is reporting large hail. Can you pull my truck in the garage?" Initially, I thought little peas for "large hail". I was in the middle of a project for work (Adam can vouch), and I begrudgingly pulled her truck in the garage.

Not 30 seconds go by, and all hell broke loose. I was standing in the garage looking at the "softballs" land in the pond across the street, and taking out branches of trees.

I closed the garage door, went inside, and could not believe the pounding on the roof and the side of my house. At the point, I knew my house was being destroyed, to the only thing to do, was to take videos. At the same time, I also called Adam a few times, because I knew he would also be taking videos. Both of us were on the NCO/Northfield.org Board and Technical Committee, and footage for the website was on my mind (holy dedication!).

Frankly, looking back, this event was measly... My Wife's Aunt's and Uncle's recent flood/house=boat experience takes the cake.

In any event, I did craft an essay about our experience exactly one year ago. It's not a very positive essay, so proceed with caution if you want to read it. You've been warned...

Link to the essay...

Downtown in the hail

I was walking downtown, returning to work at Carleton after an appointment. The rain started; I ducked under the entryway arch of River City Books to wait it out. I could tell that we were in for heavy rain if nothing else. When the hail started, I was not surprised. Then it grew in size, and I was standing slack-jawed as chunks of ice began pounding everything.

I swear some of the hail whistled in its descent. You could hear them falling. A friend told me that hail of that size hits the ground at up to 130 miles per hour.

Imagine standing in front of a major league pitcher, no protection. Now imagine he's throwing about 40 mph faster than the average major league pitcher, and he's throwing something that is less forgiving than a baseball.

I realized how dangerous it would be for anyone caught out in the pummeling ice. It still amazes me that no one was seriously hurt.

Some stones, having hit and broken into pieces, bounced into me under the archway, and some of those broken pieces were still as large as tennis balls.

I saw one car driving south on Division Street lose its rear window just as it passed my safe spot. Parked cars up and down the street were beaten mercilessly as the iceballs drummed on, a dissonant New Age percussion section.

This spring, there were still the remnants of a couple of the larger hail divots in our back lawn.

I was in the midst of my Play A Day project, and had to write at least one hail-inspired play. So I did.

My very short play: "Hail on Earth"

- Brendon Etter
A Play A Day & Lysteria

Watching the Water St. parking lot

My colleagues at Neuger Communications Group and I were watching the parking lot from our front windows at 411 S. Water St. What I remember most was the whack! of the hailstones hitting the ground and the cars. It really was as if someone were pitching baseballs as hard as they could. Dave Neuger's car alarm started going off. When it stopped, we walked outside to see that just about every car in the lot and on the street had windows broken in.

Collecting Samples

At the Carleton SERC office we also ran to the windows to watch the show (one of us with camera in hand). I remember watching a squad car's back windows being blown out. As soon as it let up we ran out to get samples to measure. Then, I went home to check on how the sitter and kids fared. They also had collected samples (still in our freezer). Fortunately, our sitter had more common sense than we did at the office and had the kids in our one windowless room.

In London...watched it on Northfield.org

I was on a business trip to London and received a voicemail from my wife.. "you are not going to believe what happened". Right away I went to Northfield.org and watched the videos....truly amazing.

What is funny, okay...sad, is that my wife was kind enough to drive me to the airport for the trip...one last hour together. So, my car was on the St. Olaf campus instead of in the MSP parking ramp. :(

You know the rest of the story....

Thanks for our citizen journalists who were so quick to document the news!

Hailstorm at Olaf

Nothing you haven't heard or read before, but ...
My wife, Kasia, and I were both working at St. Olaf during the storm, and it was the first day that we had ever left our two boys home with a babysitter. That morning I took a photo of a faculty member in the greenhouse (we were definitely the last two people to set foot in there before it was destroyed). A little later Kasia e-mailed me about how ominous it was looking outside. The campus was covered by this big black cloud. And then it started. I called home to make sure everyone there was in the basement and then my colleagues and I stood around in the basement of Skifter Hall. We knew that something nasty was happening to our vehicles but there wasn't much we could do about it.

When it was over we ventured outside. What a mess. Outdoor lamps were shattered, pieces of roofing tile and branches scattered the ground and these big chunks of hail were everywhere. Every car in sight was a wreck. All that was left of the rear speakers in our car were some dangling wires. (And we had a lot more cars on campus than usual because of a Lawson business software user group that was meeting in Buntrock Commons; they were back on campus last week without incident.)

I called home to tell the sitter and kids that it was safe to leave the basement, and I asked them to check our other car to see if it was driveable. Amazingly, it was.

I started wandering around campus and taking photos and we had our own web story up by the end of the day. Ah, the memories ...

Out of towner!

I was visiting my friend at her Grandma's house Aug 24, Originally I am from Fergus Falls. 3 hours north! The year before in 2006, in Fergus Falls we had a hail storm of slight less severity, After this was over I got a new car! to say The Least a year later on Aug 24 I got another new one.....