06 March 2012

A hail of a birthday

As I told you, last Friday was Mr. P’s birthday. And while I don’t usually take another whole separate post to mark that sort of personal non-project-y event, I’m going to this time for two reasons. First, because I have some crazy photos to show you, more worthy of a full post than Photo Friday, and second, because I could not pass up the opportunity to use that awesome pun as the post title (even if I wasn’t clever enough to come up with it myself).

Here’s what happened. Last Friday, March 2, it hit eighty degrees in Nashville. EIGHTY! At the beginning of March! Needless to say, when that happens, you are in some big weather trouble, mister. Everyone around here knew it, and everyone was freaking out about it. When I awoke around 7:30 that morning, the local news was already tracking tornados in another part of the state, and local schools were planning early dismissals so students could be home by the time the storms hit.

Last Friday was also my last day of class before spring break, but I’d refused to cancel it because I guess I am just a jerk like that. However, the storms were supposed to hit right as I would be driving or teaching, and I’d already had a few students email to say they would be skipping because of the weather. So... I cancelled class. I was annoyed about it (we’re behind the syllabus schedule! the storms may not be that bad! I am not entirely sure I have the authority to do that!) but in the end, it was the right call.

Why was it the right call? Well, here’s what happened in the ten minutes or so that Mr. P and I were taking cover in the downstairs hallway with pillows and our cell phones, as the storm hit our neighborhood:

That is all hail, not snow (remember: EIGHTY DEGREES!). We went downstairs for a few VERY LOUD minutes and came back up to find that on our deck. It was one of the most bizarre things I’d ever seen. That’s at least six inches piled up in the corner, and everything else was covered in hail as if it were snow, like our yard...

... our driveway...

and our neighbor’s roof.

We live east of the local news station building, so the storm passed over them first. When it did, the noise of the hail was so loud on the television that the meteorologist was practically shouting to be heard, until the anchor finally told her to just wait until it had passed because we still couldn’t hear her. Once I saw what was being dumped all over the city in our own yard, I understood why it had been so loud. It wasn’t just the amount of hail, either, but also the size. This photo was posted here by a baseball player at my old university:

My daughter-of-an-NWS-employee friend pointed out that technically, that’s not baseball-sized hail because it’s little hail clumped together. But I say that if it’s a baseball-sized chunk of ice falling from the sky and hitting your roof, your car, your windows? It’s baseball-sized hail.

Most of the stuff that hit us was on the order of nickel- and dime-sized, though we did have several genuine walnut-sized (I only grabbed the nearest to photograph, not the biggest – you can see bigger ones in the background):

It was kind of bizarre having our world suddenly covered in ice balls.

Fortunately, our car survived without any obvious dents, though one window screen wasn’t so lucky, and we have a bunch of little debris everywhere to clean up.

And of course, it’s awfully nice that we didn’t have a tornado touch down. Some people weren’t so lucky. As it was, we got to spend the rest of the day celebrating Mr. P with goodies from his students.

Somehow, the students pass the knowledge of the date of Mr. P’s birthday from generation to generation (because he’s not advertising it). They then plot to get out of having to do work in his class by bringing food and toys and balloons and yes, bunny ears. Of course, those cookies had nothing on the power of Mr. P’s birthday to cancel class, as described by a fellow teacher:

So an exciting birthday for what’s bound to be an exciting year! Though I wouldn’t mind if the excitement were a bit less damaging... and maybe a lot quieter.