It happened along about 1975. My life has been mostly marked by the year model of this car or that pickup I was driving and at this time. I had a “75” Chevrolet El Camino, two tone blue. Midnight blue top and bottom with a medium blue in the middle.
I needed a new pair of work boots, so I headed over to Herman’s Workshoes and Workbooks on South Lamar at Oltorf St. Being young married at the time, we did a lot together back then so my wife met there. She was driving a “74” Pontiac Grand Ville.
We had no more than gotten inside the store when the rain hit. Almost as soon as the began to rain, it started to hail. It wasn’t gigantic hail, more like quarter size. But it was coming down so hard and fast that you couldn’t hear anything but the pounding.
Within a few minutes, there was sufficient water and ice that built up at the front door with the parking lot sloped from the street toward the building, that it pushed the front door open. There was an ice flow that rushed through the store.
There were a dozen or so people in the store with us. We all started climbing up on boot display racks trying to keep from standing in the 2 feet of icy slush. When it finally stopped hailing, the sun broke through brighter than our eyes could stand. Next thing I remember we were all in the parking lot and walking around on a foot of hail accumulation, examining our vehicles.
My El Camino had very minor dings in the roof and hood. My wife’s car sitting beside it had no dents at all. Each of our vehicles suffered right side rear view mirror breakage. That was it, a testament to the fine metal that went into the cars of that time period.
The boot buying had to wait for another day.
The following is from TexasAlmanac.com – Significant Weather of the 1970’s.
May 23, 1975: Rainstorm. Austin area. Heavy rains, high winds and hail resulted in over $5 million property damage; 40 people injured. Four deaths caused by drowning.
(The only thing I question is the $5 million damage figure. It beat the roofs off of 100’s of south Austin homes)
4 thoughts on “A South Austin Hailstorm”
I remember that spring we had a lot of tornado warnings that spawned hail storms & high winds. I can’t remember all the damage but the rent house we lived in @ the time had once been in the country & had a storm shelter out back. I got into that shelter with my newborn son & a battery operated radio more than once. A friend of mine had the roof ripped off the apartment bldg right next to hers & as her children were running to their door, they were momentarily lifted off the ground.
So it was a scary spring in the Austin area!
I bought a pair of Red Wing steel toed lace up boots at Herman’s back in mid 70’s…I finally retired them in 2008 when I retired…the steel toes protected me several times from errant machete strikes when I was a surveyor…
I don’t know that I have any that lasted that long, but maybe some a couple decades old.