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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 7, Issue 3, 2011

The Storm — Nurseries and Local Orchards Suffer

page 33

The Storm
Nurseries and Local Orchards Suffer

“It is doubtful if Nelson’s “oldest” can call to mind a worse hail storm than passed over the town on Thursday night. The full extent of the damage was not realised till the sun rose next morning and glistened on the landscape decorated in a white mantle of hail, which covered the ground like snow to a depth ranging from a few inches outside the least affected area to some twelve or fourteen inches in the centre of the zone covered by the visitation...

“Toi Toi Valley was the heart of the disturbance, and at 10 o’clock an inky black mass loomed up over the Port hills and rolled on till its edge met a counter mass which apparently came from an opposite direction. On both sides could be distinguished the starry sky with the pall-like hail clouds between. A little rain preceded the great downfall, then came hail, huge at first, that fell with catapultic force. Some of these stones were gathered from the bottom of the hail mounds yesterday afternoon and measured 5/8 to 3/4 of an inch across.

“In the nurseries the noise arising from glasshouses resembled the firing of pea rifles through the panes, which smashed by the score. The huge stones ... descended like showers of gravel upon the roofs, almost rivalling the force of a storm felt in Canterbury some years back where the ice penetrated corrugated iron roofs. No sound could be heard save the infernal din of hail, and owners of orchards could only guess at the vast amount of damage resulting to their crops outside. To venture whither was impossible and impotent. ... Meanwhile roofs and gutters in all quarters of the town proved totally inadequate to serve their purposes, and floods of water and hail mingled found their way into many dwellings. Spoutings were torn from the walls and verandahs collapsed under the superincumbent masses. ... Cases are reported where fowls, left unprotected in the open, were battered into insensibility, and then frozen to death by being covered with hailstones, other poultry on the other hand were drowned in their runs by the flood water, which, did considerable damage in other directions, principally in stripping binding matter of roads. ... This will cost the Nelson City Council a considerable amount to repair.”