The Seventh Plague on Pharoah used to seem like the Scariest Weather Forecast Ever.
“Tomorrow at this time I will cause the heaviest hail to fall that has ever fallen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Send, therefore, and have your livestock and everything that you have in the open field brought to a secure place; every human or animal that is in the open field and is not brought under shelter will die when the hail comes down upon them,” it says in Exodus 9:18-19.
Then the followup news report, a few verses later: “The hail struck down everything that was in the open field throughout all the land of Egypt, both human and animal; the hail also struck down all the plants of the field, and shattered every tree in the field.”
Yikes! Holy smoke! Smoke! Because there was fire, too (verses 23-24)! Truly, an act of God.
Now? Meh. Not that impressed.
Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance says there were 608 “hail events” in Oklahoma last year. That was a 15 percent increase from 2012, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I don’t remember a one of them.
But I remember May 16, 2010. Do you?
“A large supercell thunderstorm developed over Major County, and quickly became severe,” the National Weather Service Norman forecast office starts out nonchalantly on a Web page.
Then, like the wind that day, the report picks up speed: “Baseball-size hail was reported west of Fairview. Hail up to softball size was reported west of Okeene as the supercell continued moving southeast. A larger area of at least golfball-size hail developed from south of Kingfisher to northwest Oklahoma City, with embedded areas of larger than baseball size. Wind speeds also averaged around 50 mph, but some locations measured winds in excess of 60 mph.”
Eventually, a hail swath ranged from Fairview, 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, across the metro area, to Atoka, 130 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
“Reports of damage to cars and automobiles, as well as to trees and vegetation came in by the hundreds as the supercell moved through the heart of the Oklahoma City metro area. Hail drifts reached several feet deep over some areas. Some areas even reported hail still on the ground more than 12 hours later,” the Norman forecast office reports on a Web page devoted to the hailstorm on its site for “Historical Weather Events” from 1905 to now: www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/?n=events.