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Spanish Secrets: Ten Minute Tempest

Craig Briggs's account of a brief Galician storm is so vivid that it will have you ducking to avoid the rain and hailstones.

The intense weather finally broke, and in the most spectacular of fashions.

From the beginning of June the temperatures have been steadily rising to a peak of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Increased humidity has accompanied these rising temperatures.

The atmospheric tension and pressure felt almost tangible, reminiscent of a shaken Champagne bottle just waiting to explode. This is exactly what happened.

Dark clouds gathered and the rumble of distant thunder could be heard. Like a runaway train the storm gathered momentum. The thunder intensified and the distant rumbles became loud explosive cracks.

From the corner of one’s eye, the first luminous flash of lightening ignited the murky sky. On this occasion an instinctive whip of the neck failed to catch its electrifying fork.

The count began – 1000 and 1, 1000 and 2………………..

1000 and 9,and the thunder cracked again – 9 miles and closing.

The wind velocity increased like the blast of air from a tube train as it emerges from its dark warren. Leaves rustled and trees bent in this ever increasing stormy caldron.

The first small droplets of rain appeared, driven on the wind like watery needles.

Another flash of lightening lit the sky, this time its jagged fork clearly visible against the menacing slate-grey clouds.

1000 and 1, 1000 and 2, 1000 and 3 – the centre of the storm was now only three miles away.

The driving rain turned into a torrential downpour. The driveway became a fast flowing stream. At the foot of this driveway an overwhelmed drain became a tiny whirlpool with wind-blown garden debris spiralling in its miniature vortex.

The lane in front of the house was transformed into a river torrent. As the storm intensified further, hailstones the size of marbles cracked as they collided with the hard terraces, bouncing and splintering over the ground.

The ferocity of their impact on the lawns, and the height of their subsequent bounce, gave the visual impression of icy beads being spat-out by the waterlogged green carpet.

Flashes of lightening were followed by still more claps of thunder, but the time between the thunderclaps began to lengthen.

As quickly as it appeared the storm raced off into the distance. The wind subsided and the rain abated. . Dark menacing clouds were replaced with patches of blue sky.

In its wake the ten minute tempest left havoc. Trees had wilted under the weight of water. Immature fruit lay scattered on the ground, destroyed by icy shot. Husbanded flowerbeds looked like wild hedgerows.

In the short-term the benefits of this flash flooding and the significant aerial freshness brings a brief relief, not only to the parched earth, but also its parched peoples.

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