Tempest in a Teapot
from the book, "Our Fascinating Earth"

Our Fascinating Earth

Tempest in a Teapot

Many years of documentation have confirmed that the most hail—pummeled place on the planet is the Kericho Hills region of Kenya in East Africa. This area undergoes hailstorms on the unrivaled average of 132 days per year. This is also the area of Kenya's tea plantations, which yield quite plentiful and profitable crops, placing Kenya among the top ten tea—producing nations in the world. The severe localized hailstorms often cause considerable damage to the tea crop and much concern among plantation owners. In 1978 a team of scientists conducted an investigation and reported that the link between hail and tea is not coincidental. In fact their research clearly indicated that there is a cause—and—effect relationship between the hail and the tea.

Organic litter from tea plants is strewn on the ground among hundreds of rows of shrubs. Much of the litter is composed of dust—type particles of just the right size to serve as seeds or nuclei around which hailstones can grow. The activity of hundreds of tea pickers employed by the estates readily churns the tiny particles up into the atmosphere. The atmosphere in turn becomes choked with organic dust particles, which then serve as seed for the hailstones and provoke the storms.

The conclusion of the researchers was that these recurrent hailstorms are induced organically. As one of the scientists observed, the tea produces the seeds for its own destruction!