Thunder on the plains

Where we live, we get lots of severe weather in spring into summer and sometimes even fall.

Maybe everywhere does to some extent, but we seem to get a lot. Tornado alley as the nickname goes.

These aren’t just the days that it’s kind of overcast and rainy all day, we get those too but these are different.

These are the days where it’s nice and warm or even hot during the afternoon and mostly sunny… but then cool air moves in.

You can physically feel a big difference in the temp.

But as the hot air is still around the ground, and the cold air is above, and that’s not their natural places, all of nature breaks loose. Tornados, massive winds, hail, rains so heavy it floods.

All this where just hours before was warm temps and sunshine.

But, soon before it starts, you can tell. No matter how far you are from the nearest weatherman.

There’s a certain feel to the air, a certain weight to it, a certain smell.

The sky will get dark, but only in one direction. The clouds with start moving in, and start to tint different colors… greenish, reddish, dark blues…. clouds that bring tornados often look almost black when they are still in the distance, often with a very obvious line where they start.

At this point… for most sane people, the thing to do is to prepare for the storm that’s soon to come.. to try to minimize any harm.

If you have a garage, you put your car in it to protect it from hail. If not, you make sure your windows are up.

You clear anything that could fly away easily out of your yard, or stack it in a well blocked area, or tie it down. Especially plastic lawn furniture, empty trash cans, and kids toys.

You make sure all of the windows are closed in your house, because even in a house with awnings, rain will get in when propelled by horizontal wind.

You make sure that the pets are in. If you are cautious, you unplug anything particularly expensive rather than trust the surge protectors. You make sure flashlights have batteries or candles are nearby.

And, having gotten anything taken care of that needed taken care of, you wait.

Sometimes ignoring the storm, trying to go on about your regular tasks. Sometimes glued to the tv or radio, which will usually change to lots of storm coverage even blacking out prime time shows as the storm nears. Sometimes sitting and watching the storm roll in from a place close to shelter when it gets strong.

Always with a bit of a ear listening for tornado sirens to signal the need to move to the most secure place you can find… usually a basement.

And then the storm comes.

Except when it doesn’t.

Because sometimes places that are very near will have completely different experiences. No hail here, golf ball sized there. Tornados are especially precise on wiping out a rows of houses completely while 50 yards away another row stands undamaged at all.

Usually when the storms come seemingly out of nowhere, they get huge fast. The whole radar screen is nearly covered in green to orange to red.

But still, even in a big storm, there are pockets.

A few weeks ago, we had one of these pockets. We barely got rain, other people in town had quarter sized hail. We were in the area within the storm… but apparently in a weak spot.

Then early last week, there was a day we were positive it was about to storm. Sky got dark, lightning near, some beginning sprinkles… and then… nothing. The area east of us got hit with a lot of rain, but nothing but sprinkles here.

So today I had the windows open, and I’d been reading for a while, when about 7pm when I felt the abrupt temp drop. And the wind started flipping curtains around where it’d been still earlier. Looking out the window, the dark sky was already moving in. Rain would be soon.

I went outside to check the car windows, and the yard for toys, and tell my daughter to be ready to come in… and sprinkles started. My mom yelled out her door about a town 10 minutes drive away where a cop had a windshield broken by the hail.

And then the sprinkles stopped.

And then started. And stopped.

And 2 hours later, the sky was still dark, the lightning was still there, thunder could still be heard, wind was still blowing, air was still ready… but the ground was still dry.

And so I sat on the porch (on the wrought iron furniture that rarely budges from storms lol)… and I watched the lightning a bit.

And I thought about how scary looking life is sometimes.

And the response is to prepare for the worst.

But sometimes… sometimes it only sprinkles.

And sometimes… everything will be ok. Most of the time actually. When everything is all said and done… and the storm has moved on… even if there is some damage, everything is generally ok.

But that’s so hard to remember when you feel surrounded by dark scary clouds.


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