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Thunder and Lightning

Aug 5, 1999
Robert Sostre, one of the nations top handball and paddle ball players, had to admit this was a first. "I never had a handball game delayed, on account of hail," he said.

Yes, in the summer of '99, the hot summer, the summer of the drought, the National Handball Championship was delayed by a "Yankee Monsoon."

It rained a bit at 2:00 and the possibility of thunderstorms had been mentioned on the news. But it was not a day the weather people like to predict. During a mid-day report one newscaster informed the weather reporter that a storm was showing up on the radar screens for NY Harbor. On the ground it came in fast too. All of a sudden clouds swirled, the wind kicked in and the sky darkened.

It started to pour. The wind blew harder. A hard summer rain had become a gusting coastal storm. August in Coney Island felt like September in Miami. Trees swayed, limbs broke. It began to hail!

Marble size balls and bigger came crashing down. People waiting at the bus stop started screaming in pain and fear of the icy stones. Lightning cracked and thunder roared as the rain, hail, and branches descended. Cars swirled under the El to flee the storm.

After 20 minutes it stopped. Players slowly emerged from cars and other places of refuge. The damage was surveyed. Though the courts were now submerged, Vern Roberts, Executive Director of the U.S. Handball Association remained confident. The rain would not return. "The games must go on," and after a 3 hour delay, they did.

Later this summer, the US Open will play to a full house, in the town of Flushing in the county of Queens. Today, the US Handball Championship opened in world reknowned Coney Island, in the county of Kings.

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