Aaron Shaw had just stepped out of the shower and was getting dressed when his cell phone rang. He hurried over to his nightstand and grabbed it, hoping not to wake Carol.
“Hi, Aaron,” his supervisor Erik Christensen said. “I just wanted to let you know they’ve decided to give us the day off. This storm is really causing havoc in California and Nevada, and it’s headed our way.”
Aaron pulled the bedroom curtain aside and only saw a few clouds in the sky. “The weather looks fine. I shouldn’t have any trouble making it to work.”
“That’s not the issue,” Erik said. “The weather service expects it to hit us around noon, so getting home would be the problem. So I’d just stay home and get things tied down. I’ll check with you soon to let you know when to come back to work.”
“Okay. We’ll see how it goes,” Aaron said before hanging up.
Carol was now awake. “Are they really expecting the storm to be that bad?” she asked.
“I guess so. Let’s see what they’re saying on the news.”
They went downstairs and settled next to each other on the couch. They turned the TV to the Weather Channel, which was showing a colored graphic of a hurricane-shaped storm more than a thousand miles wide. Over the past two days the center of the storm had traveled south from Washington and Oregon to southern California, and was now pummeling Las Vegas. The outer edges were even affecting Phoenix.
“Whoa, that thing has really grown since last night,” Aaron said. “That’s impressive.”
The screen switched to a series of scenes coming in from Oregon and California showing damaged homes, flooded streets, toppled trees, large hailstones littering the ground, and huge ocean waves crashing onto the shore.
The meteorologist said, “Weather experts are baffled by this storm’s unique characteristics. When it formed last week near Russia’s eastern coast, there was nothing remarkable about it. Even as it crossed the Pacific and approached Washington state, we expected it to produce moderate rainfall and then fizzle out. Then it started to grow and act like a tropical storm, but what it has done the past two days has never been seen before as it heads west across the Sierra Nevadas.”
Carol pointed at the screen as hailstones the size of baseballs were being shown. “Those could kill someone,” she said.
They turned the channel to KSL-TV, where the big story was that the edge of the storm had reached the Utah-Nevada border. The first wave of hailstones pulverized the city of Wendover, turning most of the city’s neon casino signs into shards of falling glass, killing several people who had taken shelter near the casino entrances.
“The entire state of Utah is vulnerable to hurricane-force winds,” the weatherman said. “As this storm approaches, it is vital that you stay indoors.”
There was also footage of a long line of 18-wheelers parked along I-80, unable to proceed through the storm. Some had actually blown over, and their cabs and trailers were dented by the hail.
Aaron shook his head. “I can see why they want me to stay home today. I don’t want to be out in that!”
The next two hours passed slowly. The weather was perfectly calm with just a few clouds in the sky. Aaron pulled the cars into the garage while Carol and Denise moved throughout the yard, stacking loose items in the garage and then covering their tomato plants with a large tarp.
They continued to look to the western horizon, and a black band of clouds could be seen above the mountains by 11 a.m. Once the storm was in sight, it approached quickly. Aaron called Carol and Denise into the living room, and they kneeled together in prayer. Carol offered to say it.
“Heavenly Father, we ask for thy protection of our home as this storm approaches us. We have sought to do thy will each day, and in our time of need, please spare us from nature’s wrath, if it be thy will. We love thee and seek to always serve thee. Please watch over our loved ones as well at this time. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
“Thank you, dear,” Aaron said, helping Carol up. “Let me see where the storm is.”
He went outside again, and was surprised to see the storm already over Utah Lake. The mountains to the west had vanished behind the approaching black clouds. He hurried back inside and said, “It’s nearly here! Let’s get ready.”
They had already pulled the mattress off their bed and pulled it to the center of the house, where they could take shelter under it if needed.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
The pounding of hailstones could be heard a block away. The severity of the situation became apparent as screams were heard and car alarms were triggered by the storm. The wind was howling and the sunlight disappeared. The power went off, and darkness filled the room. They instinctively got under the mattress.
“I’m scared,” Denise cried, cuddling against Carol. Hailstones pounded loudly on the roof, but the windows stayed intact. Fifteen minutes later the pounding stopped, and the commotion seemed to be dying down. Aaron cautiously crept to peer out the front window.
“It’s still raining hard, but the hail has stopped,” he said. “Come look at this, though. I’ve never seen such a sight.”
They stood at the front window, stunned to see dozens of trees in their neighborhood toppled over, all lying on the ground facing east toward the mountains as if a giant hand had tipped over a row of dominoes.
The power never did come back on in Orem that day, but the clouds seemed to lighten as the rain decreased to a steady drizzle. Aaron ventured out in the evening to see how the house had fared. The roof’s shingles were shredded, but overall the roof looked okay. The trees in the yard were badly damaged by the hail, with several broken limbs.
As Aaron looked at other homes along their street, he knew Carol’s heartfelt prayer had been answered. Some houses had gaping holes in the roofs and shattered windows. Two houses on the next block had their roofs lifted completely off and scattered across several yards.
When Aaron finally returned home and told Carol and Denise what he had seen, they both expressed relief that their home had been relatively spared.
“The Lord has blessed us,” Denise said, putting her arms around Carol.
“Yes, he has,” Carol responded. “Tomorrow we’ll see how we can help our neighbors.”