In a city where it hardly even rains, it hailed last night. And not just a few hailstones. No, it hailed like hell with the lid torn off.

My house is on the side of a hill that over looks the San Gabriel Mountains, the 5 freeway, and the Los Angeles River. It has been raining here for about the last 5 days, which is a lot here in SoCal. However, we had been in a brief dry spell. Suddenly, I heard that distinctive "ping pong balls on the roof" sound of hail. I ran to the window to see untold millions of white prills falling from the sky.

The sight instantly summoned the memory of holding a concrete replica of the largest documented hailstone in US weather history. It looked like a cross between a conch shell and an enraged cantaloupe, and weighted about 15 pounds. Despite the vivid mental picture of this icy hunk of divine retribution splitting my skull like a rotting sack of potatoes, I rushed outside.

The temperature had bombed 10 degrees F from near 50 to under 40. The hail was remarkably spherical in aspect, ranging from around .5cm to 4cm in diameter. Everything everywhere was covered in about a quarter inch of smoking white frozen precip. The heavy, snaking ground fog was slowly oozing down my hill like a bad dry ice effect, except that it was the entire hill at once.

The pitch and tempo of the precipitation ginned up to a bone-penetrating roar. The hail was pelting me so hard I was flinching and hunching under the impact. Down below, The 5 had ground to a stop, the entire road surface a pearly white. The detail lost in the distance, you could see wave after wave of frozen-water visual white noise driven through the orange utility light of the railyard by the river. It was awe inspiring - this random confluence of a supercell updraft, arctic air and pacific moisture freezing everything, the road and the clock. Everything stops but the hail.

Many, many people have likened Los Angeles to Hell. In fact, it's now a kind of trite, knee-jerk reaction to the place, something that even people that don't live here say about the city. It could be accurate, depending on which flavor of Gehenna you're talking about. The Primitive Baptist Hell is pretty monochromatic. Everybody suffers equally, the unsaved buring right next to Hitler. This is obviously an inaccurate analogy. However, Dante's Hell, the Inferno, is basically a giant city ringed by mountains, very multitextured. My making this comparison isn't a condemnation of LA, in fact it's something of a compliment. I myself had always thought of Hell as more of an interesting place to visit ("Thanks for the tour!") than a place of perpetual postmortem torment.

So if we accept this characterization, then:

Hell had frozen over.

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