We didn't get any rain during the day yesterday — at least not after about 10 a.m. Our drive to Blois (45 minutes north) was uneventful. So was the drive back around 4 p.m.
Rain here started again at about 6 pm, with the heaviest downpour at about 7. There was some small hail mixed in with the rain. The most impressive part of the storm, however, was the noise. We were sitting upstairs, watching a nature show on TV. I kept hearing a roaring, rumbling sound outdoors.
I finally got up and went downstairs to go out on the front deck to try to figure out what the noise was. It might have been a big plane, or several of them, flying over at low altitude, from the sound of it. Or a train going by at high speed over across the river, where the local station is. But it lasted too long. Walt came downstairs too. He said he thought it was thunder.
We decided it was thunder, but not claps or cracks of thunder, just one nearly continuous roar of it, off in the distance, that lasted 10 minutes. We then checked out the weather radar on a web site (amazing that we didn't lose power, internet, or satellite TV during the storm) that has a page where impacts de foudre — lightning strikes — are shown live as they happen. Just to the north and east of us, over the Sologne area and near Blois, Chambord, and Beaugency, the lightning was continuous, fast, and furious. That's what was producing the rumbling noise, I think.
A few minutes later, we got an e-mail from American friends who live in a village just five miles east of us. Are you guys okay? Our friends said they had had a few minutes of blinding rain and violent wind. The wind was enough to blow over a big tree on the edge of their yard. Luckily, it didn't fall on their house or fence, and it didn't fall across the road, so it wasn't blocking traffic at all, they said. Not that there's much traffic around here to start with...
We were surprised at their damage, because we had very little wind during the whole incident. We had no damage of any kind. However, there was a tornado reported, I've read on the local newspaper's web site, in the town of Levroux, about 45 minutes southeast of Saint-Aignan. The winds that blew down our friends' big tree must have been part of that system. Much worse damage was suffered by people living down in the Bordeaux area in southwestern France, including several deaths.
So the line of storms went by just east of us. Thunderstorms are supposed to continue today and tomorrow, and the weather will be rainy for the weekend too, according to forecasts. Years ago, I would never have believed that weather in France could be so chaotic. It always seemed calm and uneventful to me, compared to American weather in the South and Midwest, where I lived.