A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

11 April 2007

Hail, Hail the Bang's All Here

And was it banging...on my driveway, on my cars, and on my roof. We had some pretty large hail today in the Montgomery area if you hadn't noticed, and from the looks of the photos they were showing on the news this evening, the Blue Ridge area of Wetumpka had some of the largest that fell.

I had phoned my son just moments before the storm started as I had a car-full of groceries and saw the sky darkening...letting him know I'd be pulling up and since it looked pretty ominous he best not delay getting the stuff in from the car. Well, I had opened up the hatch to the van and took the mail inside when I knew something out of the ordinary was up...suddenly, and in complete unison, akin to when birds flock to and fro, all the cats jumped down from their cat tower or ran in from outside. Some strange mental bond between them kicked in...as if they had read those "during an emergency 'let's all meet up here' plans" -- they all converged under the table in the living room. Then the sirens sounded and the hail started falling...I called my son inside and we hung out in the hallway until it passed...altho my son suggested 'perhaps we should be under the table with the cats as maybe they know something we don't'. My son kept reminding me that the hatch was still open and he hadn't yet gotten all the bags in...but I think I'd rather have him alive than having to call 911 because he was struck "just wrong" on the head by hail...lightning...or a tree limb. Consequently, my hatch now has a pockmark where one of those "larger than a golf ball"-sized hail hit.

Then, of course, we HAD to take photos of the hail. My online friend commented "You folks don't get much hail I guess..lol"...but, contrary to what you may or may not know, hail is quite a phenomenon in itself...and not really all that easily made. A series of circumstances have to come into play in order for hail to become the extremely super-cold hard mass that it is...and, as my son found out today holding them...they are EXTREMELY cold. According to a book I have, I am eschewing Wikipedia, because, well, anyone can put anything up there and everyone takes that to mean it is correct. Not saying this book is more correct, but, it does correlate what most sites online are saying...plus I DO like this book, a lot.

These paraphrased quotes come from It's Raining Frogs and Fishes written by Jerry Dennis...a book about weather and sky-related phenomena. It states: Water droplets can become "supercooled" to temperatures far below freezing...which can then coalesce onto frozen drops. Updrafts within high, storm-bearing clouds are sometimes powerful to slow the descent of those drops, and perhaps tossing them back upwards, like popcorn in a popper, alternating between cold and warm air, thus building up layers of this "onion-skin"-like ice, until they become too heavy and fall to the ground. Hail usually occurs during warm weather because the heat rising from the ground forms turbulent cumulonimbus clouds containing strong updrafts...the tops of which, in the troposphere, can reach temperatures as low as -112 degrees Fahrenheit. Another theory is that a single hailstone makes only one descent from the top of the cloud to the ground, but since it is slowed by updrafts, has time, perhaps even 10-20 minutes, to have "supercooled" water droplets adhering to this ever-growing nucleus of ice. The book further states that many meteorologists think both theories are plausible.

No wonder these things are pretty darned cold...and pretty darned jagged...altho as you can see from the one photo I took today, they can also form some incredibly symmetrical round balls. You might also notice, if you look hard enough, that some look like a white marble is encased inside a clear ice shell...I call this "the geode effect"...as, when you slice it in half, it really looks like a cross-cut of a geode to me (last photo).

And, as a slide...er...side note - please remember, if you can pull WAY off the road when this happens (such as a parking lot)...do so. Keep in mind this stuff isn't just rain, it's ice - and as anyone from New Jersey can attest to...you don't want to try to drive on ice...you won't win.

1 comment:

  1. We have cold temperatures and some rain but nothing like you had. Keep safe!