Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘thunderstorm

Little Scary

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Summer is going out with a bang this year. Tomorrow will mark the change to autumn already, preceded last night by a late season outbreak of severe weather that provided a little scare in our parts.

We were aware there was a chance for heavy weather, but after a couple of intense downpours, our concern lessened and we turned on a DVD movie up in the loft. Three quarters of the way into “Trumbo,” my phone went into alarm mode beneath us on the main floor. At almost the same time, Cyndie received a text warning us our area was about to get hit hard.

I shut down the movie and brought up the local television broadcasts to see what they were reporting. The radar image looked ominous enough that we decided to hustle down from the loft and switch the news on in the bedroom. My natural aversion to hiding kept us from going all the way to the basement, despite the advice of the weather broadcasters. I wanted to be able to see what was happening.

Locally, nothing worth noting was happening, even though the radar image made it appear the worst of it was just moving overhead. I put on boots to step outside, hoping get a better sense of what was really happening.

What was happening was, it had started to rain, so I closed the door and kicked off the boots. It finally changed from dead calm –the calm was actually more eery– to moderately windy. I never noticed a significant main gust.

While broadcasters talked about the possibility of tornadoes wrapped in the rain in very close proximity to our location, we only saw evidence of normal thunderstorm bluster with heavy rain in the barely visible evening light, occasionally illuminated for fractions of seconds by flashes of lightning.

It was scary for a little while, based on the radar image and warning messages, but we seem to have dodged any justifiably scary conditions.

Once we get out this morning in the light of day, we’ll have a better sense of whether we took the drama too lightly, or not. You can be assured I will have my camera with me, so I can share what we find, if there is any damage to report.

I’m hoping the brief scare we got last night was the worst that came out of summer’s last thunderstorm blast for 2018.

I’ll let you know.

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Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

Wondering When

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When will that day come? A day when the human induced changes alter the planet to such a degree (pun not intended, but left anyway) that life as we know it today can no longer carry on the same?

For almost a week, I have been checking the NOAA national radar to see how Hurricane Florence looked as it spun toward the coast and then paused to pummel the Carolinas. Yesterday when I checked, what was left of the disturbance had moved on to the north. Now they are inundated with flood water and the rivers continue to rise as the water follows the pull of gravity, flowing toward lower altitudes.

Many are without power and their lives are dramatically disrupted, and likely will be for quite some time.

Meanwhile, though the warming global atmosphere is altering the weather to dramatic affect for different locations around the planet (see Typhoon Mangkhut), the influence has yet to significantly alter activities near our home. We are able to carry on as if nothing is different.

Cyndie collected 8 eggs from the nest boxes in the coop yesterday. She decided to try a panoramic photo of the first seven, with some wiggling hesitation visible in the result. Somehow the nest boxes stayed mostly clear and crisp.

I was in Plymouth, MN when an afternoon storm front swooped in and turned day into night. Checking the radar revealed that I would be driving under the heart of the intensity for the whole way home if I left at the usual time.

I left early.

Instead of a non-stop downpour, I flirted with the leading edge at highway speed, where one-inch diameter drops fell hesitatingly at a rate that needed constantly varying intermittent speed windshield wipers, and the frontal gust stirred up dust and debris that created a persistent swirling world of distractions.

I arrived unscathed and parked safely in the garage before the thunder and rain caught up with me.

Changing my departure by one hour on one day for one storm does not constitute a significant alteration of my activities.

Whatever else is changing around the world and altering lives thus far, circumstances for us have yet to cause any noteworthy disruption.

Sometimes I wonder when that day will come.

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Written by johnwhays

September 18, 2018 at 6:00 am

Hail No!

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We got pounded yesterday! It seemed to just come out of nowhere. I was out in the shop when Cyndie stopped by to mention she could hear thunder in the distance. I didn’t even realize precipitation was expected in the middle of the day. It was sunny when I had left the house a short time earlier.

That changed pretty quick. There was a moment when I became aware of a roar that turned out to be rain on the metal roof of the shop. Then came a single “CRACK!” that I recognized right away.

I stepped to the door to watch for more.

Sure enough, there was a slow and steady increase in sharp bangs on the roof. Pieces of white ice started to bounce on the pavement of the driveway. I began to realize that I couldn’t tell how big they were because the hail stones were shattering when they hit the hard surface, but the intensity was increasing enough that I wasn’t about to step out from the protection of the roof to collect them from the yard.

As the duration extended and the intensity increased, it occurred to me to record video of the spectacle. Now you can see and hear what we experienced for yourself:

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After it had calmed to only occasional rare strikes of hail, I rushed out to check on Cyndie and the house, pausing to collect some of the larger stones along the way.

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I was worried about the two skylight windows on the roof of our house. No cracks evident, much to my surprise. I haven’t looked closely, but even the shingles seemed fine, viewed at an angle from the ground.

There were a fair number of leaves pummeled from the trees, but no other obvious damage.

Then I thought about the animals. I have no idea how they reacted to the calamity while the worst of it was underway. I know the noise of it on the metal barn roof must have been pretty disturbing.

I found the horses standing together out in the paddock, looking a little shocked, but otherwise unharmed. They have a pretty thick hide, but strikes from those stones must really sting! How can they not?

Just as I emerged from the trail to check on the horses, the ten chickens trotted out of the trees to greet me, looking as if nothing spectacular had happened for them. I expect the thicket where they can hide was under enough tree cover that falling balls of rocketing ice slowed to relatively harmless speeds.

So, all in all, it was mostly noise that disturbed an otherwise beautiful Friday morning. I suppose the tree leaves would offer a harsher view of the event. Our truck is already so beat and battered that damage from hail strikes is difficult to discern.

We lucked out, beyond a bit of a scare.

Hail makes a really wicked sound as it smashes into everything around.

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Written by johnwhays

September 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

We’re Dry

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During my commute home yesterday afternoon, I watched clouds thicken and grow dark to the south. When I exited from I94 east and turned toward the southeast heading to River Falls, the view looked a little threatening. Then the radio reported there was only one noteworthy storm worth mentioning. With possible heavy rain amounts, high wind, and hail, in Goodhue and Pierce counties, it included the communities of Red Wing and Hager City.

We live in Pierce county, a short distance north of Red Wing.

Good, I thought. We could use the rain. I just wasn’t fired up about driving in the pouring rain.

When I finally reached Beldenville, the road was soaking wet, but the rain was already done. It must have stopped just before I arrived.

We live a couple of miles north of Beldenville proper, and when I turned onto County J, the pavement was bone dry.

We didn’t get a drop at home.

I stepped out on the deck to take a picture of the drooping sunflower for a representation of how the plants are feeling about our long spell without rain.

As I stood there, I noticed there was a lot more than just the sunflower that would show up in the frame.

This sunflower made a surprise appearance, most likely growing from birdseed that fell from the feeder nearby. It shot up with robust energy at first. When the ground started to dry out, the growth stunted significantly. It hasn’t looked very happy ever since.

There used to be a big pine tree here. I’m guessing it might have been root bound, based on my recent discovery about the pines out in the field north of the driveway. We left it standing until it was good and dead, then I cut it down, leaving enough of the old trunk to have a nice support for a balanced rock. Using this chiseled stone for a base (probably a remnant from the construction of the field stone chimney on the house), I balanced a large rock that I was only barely able to lift up to the necessary height.

It eventually fell down.

I’ve yet to decide whether to put a different one up there, but I’ve definitely chosen to leave the too heavy one safely on the ground where it landed.

Even though the big tree died, the ground seems to be fertile for a new generation of pines sprouting in its place. There are at least three rising up around that stump, taking advantage of the sunlight available since I cut the big one down.

And where do baby trees come from? The number of pine cones remaining from the now-removed tree seem to offer plenty of clues.

Maybe if we come out of this dry spell, more of those seeds will sprout.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Peaceful Presence

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With a perfectly timed explosion of lightning and thunder, our peaceful World Labyrinth Day came to a spectacular close last night. Prior to that, we had plenty of sun and warmth to walk the circuitous path of our 70-foot diameter, 11 circuit Chartes labyrinth nestled on the edge of our woods beside a horse pasture.

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Even though the “Walk as One at 1” in a global wave of peace was the primary reason for yesterday’s open house at Wintervale, it ended up being the chickens who stole the show.

The kids present wanted to climb inside the fence and feed the growing chicks delectable treats of dried worms and cracked corn right from their hands.

Although the young birds were a bit skittish over all the human energy present on our first visit, Cyndie took the kids back a little later and the chicks were much more interested in exploring the offerings.

Shortly after the last of family and friends had departed for the day, Cyndie and I made the rounds to bring hammocks and chair cushions inside. The sky was growing dark gray on the horizon.

We made the short trek to Clyde’s Corner for cheese burgers to cap off the end of a successful day, while the thunderstorm loomed large. Luckily, we had decided to wrangle the chicks back into the coop before we left.

The drive home was a light-show of streaking lightning bolts, many appearing to be hitting closer to us as the storm moved away. That had Delilah barking up her own storm to bring our exciting day to an appropriate end.

It started peacefully, and ended with quite a bang.

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Precious Protector

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Conditions weren’t ideal to assess Cayenne’s status yesterday, because the first days of March this year brought us a classic spring thunderstorm that showed up under a very-early-in-the-year Tornado Watch. It unfolded with uncharacteristically warm temps, high winds, LOTS of lightning, plenty of thunder, and finally, some pea-sized hail.

Cyndie moved the horses into the barn before the wild weather ultimately let loose, but she did have one interesting anecdote to share from a little earlier.

Whenever the wind is blowing, it puts the horses on edge, so they were already a little skittish when Cyndie was moving among the herd brushing out their shedding winter coats. As she was working with Hunter, a tractor in our neighbor’s field roared to life and startled the younger gelding into a little emergency evacuation drill.

Dezirea happened to be blocking his first escape route, so he faltered in his anxious reaction and suddenly appeared as though he wanted to go through Cyndie to get away.

Cyndie explains it all as happening in a split second, but she had time to have her own thoughts of panic and admonished Hunter not to run her over.

In that same instant, our somewhat hobbled patient in the new shoes overcame her tentative maneuvering and rushed to the scene, placing her body between Cyndie and Hunter, forcing him to make one last adjustment and exit, stage opposite.

Cayenne is obviously doing well enough to think fast and move even faster.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2017 at 7:00 am

Startling Storm

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I had a ready-made excuse for not working on the chicken coop construction after work yesterday, because rain was falling from the sky. I drove through a couple of heavy downpours on my way home, but it wasn’t raining too hard when I pulled into our driveway.

I must have just missed it, though, because the drainage swale across our pastures was filled with rushing water. Cyndie reported we had received an inch in a very short span of time.

While having dinner with George and Anneliese, something caught my eye outside one of the high triangle windows beside our fireplace chimney. It appeared to be “snowing” leaves high in the sky. A combination of high wind and more rain was stripping the leaves en mass from our trees.

The sky grew dark and Cyndie said she thought it would hail.

“No, it’s not going to hail.” I said. “It’s just looks like this because it’s the middle of October and the sun is low.”

A minute or so after that, it started to hail.

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You’d think I would better know to heed her intuition by this point in our lives together.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2016 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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