Wicked Weather Witchery (#367)

I usually like rain.

I mean, aside from the time it stormed during what was supposed to my outdoor wedding–with lightning and hail.  Or that time the out-of-season atmospheric river hit during Baby D’s outdoor baby shower. Or when my new car was destroyed by a hailstorm while driving across the country.

And no, I did not love the surprising hail (AGAIN) that hit us in southern England during our one vacation that didn’t involve visiting family.

Ominous hail clouds approach St. Mary’s

While we were sheltering in a church in Thornbury, we chatted with some locals.

“We expect rain,” one man told us. “Hail is rather…odd,”

“I’ve not seen hail before,” another agreed.

Andy nudged me and said, “It’s her. If she has an event or vacation, there will be rain, hail, or snow.”

“Shhh, honey, they used to burn witches around here,” I joked.

My Lawyer Sis, on the other hand, is the good weather witch. The day of her wedding, in Washington, D.C., (notorious for summer afternoon thunderstorms) not a drop of rain fell until she slipped indoors at midnight. Then it poured.

But just as my (admittedly imaginary) rain witchery is ultimately no match for Southern California’s dry climate, Lawyer Sis is stuck with D.C.’s cold and gray winters. In an effort to combat seasonal depression, she sometimes flies to SoCal for a visit in the winter. She spends days sitting on our south-facing patio, yelling, “No! Get away!” at me when I offer her hats, umbrellas, and sunblock.

This year, her trip was from last Thursday through the weekend. I had warned her about the incoming atmospheric rivers: one was scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday, the other for Sunday-Wednesday.

On Wednesday, as the rain fell, Andy asked, “Is she still coming?”


“She’s counting on her sunshine witchery?”

“Yep. It’s a solid gamble. I don’t have any events and it’s not my vacation.”

But what we did have, hidden under the asphalt shingles on our roof, was a problem.

The rain was much heavier than expected on Wednesday. We got two inches overnight. As soon as Andy left for work on Thursday morning, I heard dripping. Water was falling on the hall bookcase, coming from an HVAC vent in the ceiling. I headed into our unfinished attic with my phone and a flashlight.

Sure enough, water dripped from the roof, splattering insulation around the ducts. I rigged a bucket to catch the water and dried up the wood and insulation as best I could. Then I set up a fan and called my husband.

“It’s leaking where they put in metal flashing and vent for the new furnace and AC three years ago,” I reported.

“Shit. Want me to come home?”

“Nah, nothing else to do here and you have to pick up Lawyer Sis. Her flight is early and I have to get back to cleaning while I file an insurance claim and call the roofer. But I’m behind schedule so DRIVE SLOW and pick up something for lunch!”

Since the rain, of course, stopped the second my sister’s plane touched down and Andy is firmly committed to breaking the “slow Asian driver” stereotype, they made it home while I was still cleaning. By afternoon the sun was breaking through the clouds when we walked the dog.

“Sorry it’s not as sunny as usual,” I apologized.

Lawyer Sis waved my apology away. “It’s just nice to be where the air doesn’t hurt my face. We had a whole week of twenty degrees or less!”

It rained again that night, but Friday was gloriously sunny. Saturday was also unexpectedly sunny.

“Looks like your sister’s weather witchery is stronger than yours,” Andy chuckled, after he’d climbed on the roof and applied some roofing patch to the flashing. (We have yet to hear back from the roofer and insurance companies are currently as inundated with claims as California is with water.) “I think we can get rid of the bucket!”

“Not for long,” I countered grimly. “Now that I have a hole in the roof, just wait…”

Sure enough, meteorologists began predicting even more rain, starting Sunday. Maybe more rain than SoCal normally gets in an entire year—in 2 days. They also predicted wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

Andy grudgingly put the bucket back. It was filling up again Sunday evening.

I sent Baby D into the wind and rain to take out the trash. Upon his return, he announced, “There’s a plant in our backyard.”

I envisioned someone’s airborne potted palm landing our yard. “Wind must’ve blown it there.”

I grabbed the flashlight, headed outside, and discovered…

…that my son is a master of understatement.

Our twenty-foot Ficus tree had been uprooted and lay across the backyard. Next to it was my beautiful fuchsia bougainvillea, its trellis ripped off our cinderblock wall.

The downed tree Dalton casually described as “a plant” in daylight.

Later, after Andy checked out the damage, he asked, “What kind of replacement tree do you want?”

“I don’t want a replacement,” I grumbled. “They had matured to the perfect height to block the view of Cop Neighbor’s ugly, oversized Chino Hills tract house. Plus, I wanted the bougainvillea to continue dumping leaves in his yard because it pisses him off.”

I glowered out the window, where the wind was driving sheets of rain nearly horizontal. “Stupid rain.”

Andy patted my shoulder and said, “At least your perverse weather witchery is stronger than your sister’s?”

“More like, at least there’s no hail.”


Uprooted and de-trellised.


Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

21 thoughts on “Wicked Weather Witchery (#367)”

  1. Many moons ago, I worked part time at a University which was next door to the Cathedral. During the wet months of the year, at least once a week as I crossed campus to get to the car park, I would be pelted with huge bits of hail. I have never experienced anything like it before or since. I’d have hoped that being in the shadow of the Cathedral, there was no witchery at play, but with all those students around, who can tell.

  2. I know all about car-destroying hail. South Dakota is notorious for it. Fortunately, the hail in Wisconsin is smaller and less frequent.

    We make up for that in humidity.

    Having lived in California for 8 years, I never experienced rain like that. Hope your roof holds up and no more “plants” blow into your yard.

    1. It was Denver hail that destroyed my new car’s body. But because it wasn’t a Tesla, the windows didn’t break and neither did the engine. It just looked like someone had gone after it with a machine gun. Folks on the interstate slowed down to take photos.

  3. WOW. That tree…!!! And baby Ds description that is super intense. Do you have to hire someone to remove it? Did the streets of LA really flood?

    1. Yeah, the streets and freeways are varying degrees of flooded. I think we will probably try and chop the Ficus up a piece at a time and send it to the green waste bin. If it ever stops raining.

  4. A few months after we moved to the Philippines, it rained 40 days and 40 nights. We almost lost daughter #2 into the raging underground sewer. I hadn’t realized the opening was so big. But mostly I have no stories of weather witchery. We’ve had a mild winter up here in NW Washington. Only problem: not enough snow falling in the mts.

    The rain and floods in S CA are really amazing. I’m sorry about your roof and your bougainvillea and ficus tree. Our plants can’t compare with our pets, but we love our favorites anyway.

    1. That is some rain of biblical proportions, wow. Did it ever rain that long again?

      Yes, I believe we got our entire season of rain in one atmospheric river. Not exactly ideal. But so far the hillside a few blocks behind our house is still intact, with the coyotes still howling on it. If they vacate the area, I might, too!

  5. Oh no! It always sucks to lose favorite trees in storms.

    My husband and I share your rain witchery. It’s a given that, when we travel, it’s going to rain. (Our roap trip last fall was a rare exception.)

  6. Oh this is something else that you’re experiencing. I am amazed by the photos of the water and the damage. I also agree that your son is a master of understatement. I’m laughing about it in fact.

  7. Storm damage is annoying and hope you get your roof fixed, trees replanted and insurance compensation. It seemed like a very wild storm. Here in Melbourne we rarely get torrential rain or big storms, maybe a handful of times a year. But we tend to get hail the size of golf balls every now and then no matter if it’s summer or winter. Passing showers are more common here. The other day I was walking back home and was caught in one of these 5-10 minute heavy rains and got completely soaked. I think it was just bad timing on my part, no witchery. Could have waited it out.

    1. That is some serious hail, worthy of our Tornado Alley in the Midwest! Australia’s weather rivals the US when it comes to being wild. I didn’t see much on fires this year–were they bad this summer?

      1. You know what. The day after I read your post and commented, we had a very hot day followed by a terrible freak storm and hail. I was lucky my place had power, but about half a million homes had no power including some of my friends’. The fires aren’t too bad this year but over the last few days unfortunately there have been some fires. It hasn’t felt too much like summer this year to be honest.

          1. Normal summer here is usually warm, but not hot enough for fires. Usually not constantly wet and raining, like it has been. It hasn’t been a cold summer though. Just, not warm

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