Kansas Hail Storm

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We have had the “pleasure” of many trips across I-70 this summer.  I use the quotes because it seems that KS weather along I-70 is nearly always lousy.  I mean no disrespect to KS, but that corridor really doesn’t make me long for KS.  We encountered strong winds on most trips, some thunderstorms and even a nearby tornado.  However, the most exciting was easily the hail storm that my son and I drove through.

We were nearly to the CO border at around dusk on a seemingly beautiful day, making good time and watching a distant thunderhead, wondering when we’d drive into the rain.  Suddenly, a wild gust of wind hit with no warning.  We were pulling a horse trailer and the sudden intense wind was enough to push us over for a nice examination of the other side of the road.  Seconds later, the hail started.  It was small at first, maybe pea sized, but almost immediately increased to around golf ball sized.  Visibility instantly decreased to a few feet and it sounded like shotgun blasts inside the truck.  I seriously questioned if the windshield would hold, but it did.  I took the first exit, hoping for an underpass to shelter the truck and trailer but there was no room so it seemed best to just continue slowly.  I quickly found that moving at even a few miles per hour was too much most of the time.  The rain and hail were coming so fast that it felt like even the road was moving.  We varied between a complete stop and creeping along.  At one point I stopped, thinking something didn’t feel right.  When the storm let up a bit, I found that we were on the shoulder heading straight for the very deep ditch.

After what seemed like an eternity but was really only about 15 minutes, the hail stopped and just the rain continued.  My son timidly peeked out from under his blanket and asked if it was all clear.  At this point, the road was covered with a couple inches of hail stones and was extremely slippery, so we decided to pull off at the next exit and assess that damage.  It was no surprise to find that the truck was covered in large dents, both side mirrors were broken, and all of the trailer lights had been completely destroyed.  I should mention that I was borrowing my parents’ truck because my truck was in the shop having the fuel pump replaced when I had to leave.  It made it even more painful knowing it was a borrowed vehicle that had been destroyed.

After encountering this storm, my son had a hard time sleeping on these long trips.  He finally admitted that awakening from a sound sleep surrounded by dark and the sounds of gunshots had him very worried of a repeat.  I really couldn’t blame him!  When I look back at excitement like this, I’m even more grateful to be done moving!  However, even with experiences such as this, it was worth it!

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