Have you ever seen the Breaking Bad episode titled “Fly”? If so, you have a pretty good idea how my day went at work on Monday.
To summarize briefly, “Fly” involves Walt White’s failed attempt to catch a fly that is buzzing around the superlab. I should set the record straight and let you know my boss is not affiliated with any drug cartel or fried chicken restaurant (that I know of, anyway), and I do not work in a lab (super or even small), so the similarities are superficial at best.
In any case, there is a cricket in the office, and we tried in vain all day to find and eradicate it. Not that we have anything against crickets per se, but the constant chirping was maddening. At every turn, the sucker was one step ahead of us; we’d follow the chirping to the back room, only to have it stop abruptly…and start up again in the front of the office. There are only two possibilities to adequately explain this:
- Our cricket is a ventriloquist, or
- Our cricket is crickets. Plural.
Regardless, we never caught it, even when my boss-who-isn’t-a-drug-kingpin busted out the hand vacuum and ran it over all the corners and crevices small enough for a cricket to hide. And the chirping has begun in earnest again this morning, so I guess I’ll be wearing my noise-cancelling headphones for the foreseeable future.
If I’m forever going on about how dramatic the weather in western South Dakota is, it’s because the weather in western South Dakota is pretty damn dramatic. Thunderstorms, blizzards, winds, hail…you name it, we’ve got it. Hail is especially common here; it occurs frequently during the summer and can cause serious damage. The topography of the Black Hills is to blame: the mountains force moist air into high altitudes; these updrafts cause rain to freeze and collect layer upon layer of ice before eventually falling to the ground as hail. They say the front range of the Rocky Mountains has the highest frequency of large hail, and the Black Hills ranks #2.
/ meteorology lesson
I’m no stranger to South Dakota hail. I encountered it during my road trip in 2011, and again in 2018, just weeks after moving here. My Mazda still has the dents and dings from that storm. This time of year, you see dozens of “hail damage repair” signs for automotive repair shops all over town. I bet those guys could afford to put swimming pools in their yards based on all the hail work they get!
Last night takes the cake, though. Tara and I had just settled down to dinner and America’s Got Talent when all hell broke loose. A line of thunderstorms had been approaching, with plenty of lightning and thunder. Nothing unusual there. Sunday night, we got over 1″ of rain in an hour from a similar setup. This time, however, the rain was accompanied by hail. Hail that continued to grow larger and fall more furiously with each passing second. When it reached the size of golf balls, I started to freak out a little. The sound of giant hailstones pummeling the roof and smashing against cars, patio furniture, and boats!! is kind of terrifying. Worst of all, you’re helpless to do a damn thing about it. It was a pretty tense seven minutes, and all we could do was wait it out before surveying the damage.
Fortunately, that was minimal. Our windshields were intact and most of our plants weathered the storm okay, short a few snapped stems and beat-up leaves. Whew. On the plus side, we haven’t had to water the garden for two days.
Crazy stuff, huh? Biggest hailstones I’ve seen here…and they can, and do, get even bigger. There were a few reports of baseball-sized hail yesterday.
Today’s weather is supposed to be calmer. But you never know around here…