Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘thunderstorms

Fair Bound

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Today is the only day that worked out for us to pay a visit to the Minnesota State Fair so we enlisted the services of our animal sitter to cover the hours we plan to be away and we’re going for it. Neither of us can remember how many years it has been since we last went to the fair but it has been a long time.

I’ve only changed my mind about going several times after reading articles about long lines, not just at food booths but also simply getting a seat on a shuttle bus to the fair itself. Cyndie pointed out we already had coverage for the day so we might as well go.

Knowing today would be booked for all-day fun, we made a point of diving into chores as soon as we got home yesterday. We pulled a full shift on the driveway, raking up and shaping gravel shoulders for 60 yards (30 on each side). Then I scooped a few days of manure that had accumulated in the paddocks over the weekend while Cyndie did some weeding around the barn.

While we were at the lake, both our cell phones were buzzing with storm alerts from back home and our power co-op emailed a notice the power had gone out. Upon arriving home we found no evidence whatsoever that we’d lost power. There were a few small tree branches on the ground but not anything that different from a typical windy afternoon. The rain gauges held between 2.5 and 3.0 inches of water.

The images in our minds triggered by the weather app warnings conjured a much more vigorous impact than what physical evidence presented upon our return home. For that we are thankful. Unfortunately, outcomes like this serve to feed my tendency to be nonchalant when it comes to alarming weather alerts.

Sunday night, the Hayward area got pounded hard by a very dramatic 1:30 a.m. thunderstorm. It had Delilah in fits, barking at the flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. She works hard to scare off thunderstorms due to a deep-seated drive to protect us from harm. All she did is protect us from getting good sleep.

As the storm raged at its peak intensity, I invited Cyndie to imagine what it would be like to experience that from inside a two-person tent. That is what I and a few others endured in June during the Tour of Minnesota bike trip because we opted out of the invitation to sleep inside the school. Throw in the sound of an air-raid siren wailing right overhead for full effect.

No storms in the forecast for today’s fair adventure. Just a threat of sore feet and tested patience in dealing with a hundred-thousand other people trying to do the same thing as us. Oh, and a high potential of exceeding my daily sugar and overall calorie intake goals in a span of very few hours.

We are looking forward to it.



Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Missing Out

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Now that we are back at home, I don’t have access to television coverage of the Tour de France bike race. I decided to focus on other projects yesterday and headed outside to move lawn furniture in preparation for mowing the grass that is overdue to be trimmed. The dew point temperature was high and the grass was very wet. I was going to need to wait for dryer conditions later in the day.

I decided to fill the time by cleaning up the two sections of asphalt that didn’t get removed by the excavators. Between the shop garage and the house, the old asphalt was still in good enough shape that they can overlay new on top of it. I spent much of the day pulling grass and weeds from the cracks and cutting back the sod away from the edges.

I also did a deep sweeping with a push broom to remove all debris.

While working on all that, thunderstorms started blossoming almost directly overhead. When it thundered nearby I pulled out my phone and checked the radar. Sure enough, the green/yellow/red blotches were materializing right on top of us.

Delilah and I headed back inside just as the intensity of pouring rain started to peak. The lawn was not going to dry out any time soon.

Being stuck indoors, I could have easily checked out the bike race online, but I didn’t even think of it. I finished reading the news and closed my eyes for a ten-minute nap. When I came to again the sun was shining bright. That allowed me to take Delilah out for her noon walk, where we stop by the barn to give Mix a little mid-day feed of extra nutrition.

The dog and I only made it part way through the woods when it started to rain again.

Back in the house we went. I ate lunch and waited until I could get back outside to finish putzing around the upper driveway.

It took until 2:00 in the afternoon for the weather to stabilize and the precipitation end. At the end of the day, around the time I was turning in for the night, I thought to check on the race. I missed out on several incidents with the Jumbo-Visma team, including the yellow jersey crashing.

I can just imagine the heightened alarm of commentators Phil Ligget and Bob Roll describing the drama as it unfolded.

At least I won’t miss anything today as it is a rest day for the competition. My attention will be on a certain paving company’s expected arrival and whether the grass is drying enough for me to mow.



Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2022 at 6:00 am

Storm Warned

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We were warned about a storm threat and riders were given an option to pack up tents and belongings to move into the school in Walker for the night.

A couple dozen of us chose to stay where we were. The first wave of rain, wind, and thunder arrived a little after 8:00 p.m. My aging rainfly showed its flaws, allowing some drips through during the initial period of heavy rain.

Two stormy sky picks in three days.

I was actually trying to get a shot that would show how few tent’s remained so the bulk of storm clouds were behind me in that photo.

No shortage of adventure so far this year. Having a wonderful time!



Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

Impressive Sky

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There was no missing the approach of a significant change in the weather yesterday afternoon. It didn’t come as a surprise after a dramatic jump in temperature and humidity that was combined with a strong, gusty wind. All the ingredients were there for a bumpy end of the day.

I was moving the horses back into the paddock from the back pasture when the leading edge of a line of thunderstorms arrived overhead. A short while later, our cell phones announced our county was included in a tornado warning.

This was the second such warning to occur in this county during the past three weeks. Something tells me it’s going to be a long year for severe weather. It would be just fine with me to be wrong and have these two close calls be nature’s way of using up the threatening storms right away in early spring so the rest of the warm months will be safe and calm.

In addition to the weather drama, I got a little shock when an itch on my side turned out to be a small wood tick latched onto my flesh. Makes me miss our chickens free-ranging all over the place and controlling insects like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Sure wish the rest of the busy wildlife around here would pick up the slack and eat more flies and ticks.

The horses are also going to miss the fly-control the chickens were providing. All the wet weather of the previous weeks is harbinger of a high fly population this year. Flies have shown up early and are already making pests of themselves around the horses’ eyes.

As the sky began to look gloomier and doom-ier, we checked weather radar maps and watched as the worst looking blobs on the screen approached. Fear not, this wasn’t to be our day for damage. Just like the storms a couple of weeks ago, our location was spared as the worst-looking masses passed on either side of our property.

At one point, it began to rain in the backyard while the other side of our house remained dry.

That’s what I call really riding the edge.



Written by johnwhays

May 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

Great Distraction

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Last night, despite the hefty drama of flashing lightning and booming thunder, Cyndie and I tuned out the horrors of war on the other side of the world and the wild weather locally to immerse ourselves in the opening episodes of a two-year-old streaming television series. It is both intelligent and funny and oh so refreshing.

We have missed another real-time popularity spike of a series that everyone was talking about. It doesn’t matter which one. Our rural connection limitations leave us out of the loop with current events. We have our moments of excited fanaticism after the fact, on our own. The world has already said everything there is to be said about the shows by the time we get around to watching.

We laughed and binged our way through four episodes and only stopped because real life couldn’t be put off any longer. I feel profoundly grateful that artists produce shows like this for our entertainment and enlightenment.

As much as it pains me to know the victims of the ongoing war in the real world don’t have the luxury of taking a break from it all, my health requires I clear my head of the atrocities as often as possible.

We experienced a new tree down across one of our trails yesterday before the big storms had even arrived.

I walked around to get a different angle and discovered the hole created by the toppled trunk was completely full of standing water.

It’s no surprise the dead tree no longer had a firm enough grip on the earth to remain standing.

Feels a little like a metaphor for a lot of aspects of life these days. Too bad our trees can’t take a break and watch a popular streaming television series every so often to escape the hazards of surviving everything the universe dishes up day after day.

I’m on my own today while Cyndie is visiting in the Cities, so I will have to delay further binging until she returns home. I hope to delve into more great distraction as soon as I can talk her into it after she gets back.

It will fuel my reserves of love so I have all the more to beam toward Ukrainians wherever they are in the world or at home under military assault.

It’s a mystery, even as I do it. Thinking of all the people of Ukraine and escaping from endless news about them, both at the same time.

Imagining peace…



Written by johnwhays

April 13, 2022 at 6:00 am

Squall Line

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Cyndie was out walking Delilah on our north loop trail near the road when she captured this dramatic view of yesterday mornings’ approaching thunderstorm.

They didn’t make it back to the house without getting soaked.

We received about 2.25 inches of rain out of the storm that kept Delilah incessantly barking at the continuous big, bad bowling balls rumbling in the heavens.

Our surface soil moisture amount now seems to be enough for most of our lawn grasses and all of the weeds. There is more rain predicted for the end of this week so maybe that will do something for our root-zone soil moisture that is still sorely lacking.

I just hope we don’t get one of those dousings like Tennessee just received that caused the catastrophic flash flooding.

The trees on our property dropped so many branches they reminded me of the amount of hair constantly shedding from my head. The big oak that stretches across the driveway up by the house has started to shed acorns. After our effort last year to collect 100 viable ones for a planting experiment, I now feel guilty every time I hear a cracking sound under my boots.

“That could have been a potential new tree!”

Yesterday, it dropped so many shards of branches onto the pavement below, the acorns weren’t even noticeable among the debris.

Walking Delilah through the woods became a stuttering start/stop exercise for her as I was constantly pausing to bend over and pick up branches to toss them off the pathway. Several were big enough they required a two-handed effort.

That doozy of a squall line ushered in quite a dose of heavy weather. Maybe the next precipitation could come in the form of a slow day-long soaking, thank you very much.



Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Already Planting

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No time like the present to put sprouting garden plants into the ground I guess. Cyndie didn’t have much choice but to plant, given the way her pea and bean sprouts were frequently doubling their height inside our sunroom.


These little green creatures were in a hurry to reach for the sky, so Cyndie put them out in the dirt yesterday where they have room to get as big as they want.


They will be under a protective shroud to shield them from any direct poundings that our frequent heavy downpours dish up (Tuesday night’s outburst blew a downspout extender clear off the elbow). The covering will also serve them well should the overnight temperatures return to that fatal freeze point in one of nature’s harsher versions of a practical joke.

It pains me greatly whenever I have to witness wilted budding tree leaves after a final unwelcome hard freeze pays a visit in late April or May.

After the bumpy thunderstorms overnight Monday and Tuesday, the new plantings will have the benefit of plenty of fresh ozone and nitrogen oxides thanks to the frequent lightning strikes.

With the rapidly intensifying chorus of frog chirps filling the now humid evening air, one gets the impression summer is trying to encroach on the days formerly associated with spring.

Not that anyone around here is complaining about that this year.




Written by johnwhays

April 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

Storm Departs

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Cyndie shared some scenes from the aftermath of a thunderstorm that bowled over us earlier in the week. There has been a steady stream of them lately, most being of the non-concerning variety, but not without some minor consequences.

There is another tree that has fallen across one of our trails. Honestly, before living here, I had no idea how often trees topple over in a forest. Sometimes, it’s even weather-related, but not always.

The backside of the storm was pretty obvious and the blue sky behind it served as a wonderful exclamation mark of bidding the blustery beast good riddance.

After the sun drooped below the horizon, it provided one last parting gift of illuminating a whisp of a heart-shape in one of the lower clouds.

I’ve heard of silver linings, but this cloud definitely had a pink one.

We’ve been spared the hail that some areas received the other night, and for once, the total precipitation amounts have bounced between a quarter and a half of an inch, instead of overflowing our rain gauge. A blessing that we do not take for granted one bit.

All the aspects of our paradise glow and flourish in the aftermath of each rumbly event of rocky weather. As I recline on our deck or inside the screen door soaking up the glorious calm, there is no place I would rather be.

It’s social distancing on the grandest of scales.



Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mixed Mind

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It’s a battle to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook amid a pandemic that our government has failed to effectively manage, which has our economy teetering on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, Cyndie’s garden extravaganza can be described as nothing but a bountiful success and our new brood of rambunctious chicks inspire visions of a wonderful future.

My mood of the moment has been swinging wildly between hope and despair.

Federal secret police snatching protesters in Portland? The White House disrupting coronavirus reporting to the CDC? What is our government up to and why does there seem to be no way to enact checks and balances that once protected our democracy? Why is it that the current President has been allowed to keep his financial interests secret all this time?

Last night we lucked out once again in the stormy weather lottery. We were spared even a hint of destructive wind in the moments after warnings and radar images indicated a tornado was headed in our direction. We have yet to hear any reports of whether the vicinity around us was impacted negatively.

I can report the lightning bolts flashing dramatically in the clouds overhead were more frequent and numerous than I have ever witnessed before in my life. The constant rumble of distant thunder never once appeared to match the immediate flashes occurring directly above our location which baffled my understanding of the way things work.

I cannot fathom what actual energy was at play to generate such a dazzling display of countless electrical arcing bolts without the usual accompanying impacts of typical thunder. Just one night prior, we suffered two BOOM!s of thunder that scared me into a clench of inadvertent reaction that lasted three times as long as the explosion of thunder itself. The worst of those incidents surely was one that struck somewhere close enough that light and sound were simultaneous.

I can’t say for sure because I was attempting to be asleep at the time.

The warming of our planet assuredly is unleashing greater intensity of local storms, but each time we escape unscathed I feel a moment of hope that our destruction is not imminent. Tornadoes can be devastating, but they can also be relatively precise as to the areas of impact.

That is a little like deciding to raise free-range chickens in an area that includes foxes, coyotes, possums, skunks, feral cats, occasional passing mountain lions, neighboring dogs, and marauding raccoons.

It mixes my mind.



Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2020 at 9:57 am

Big Impact

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In the end, the storm that started Sunday night with that quick downpour I wrote about in yesterday’s post reverberated throughout the rest of the overnight hours with multiple waves of thunder, lightning, hail, wind, and rain, and dumped so much water it overflowed our 6-inch rain gauges. We collected over seven inches of rain in about 18-hours. A little to our northeast, the official total was over nine inches.

That kind of precipitation in such a short amount of time tends to have a big impact. My commute in the morning yesterday passed flooded farm fields, filled ditches, and creeks flowing so far beyond their banks they looked like lakes. I precariously crawled my Crosstrek through two sections of local roads where water was flowing across the pavement and skirted around several medium-sized branches that had fallen onto one of the lanes.

While I was at work, Cyndie texted to report our power was out and water was puddling on our basement floor. The basement leak was a first in the time since we’ve been here. Time to check our gutters for clear and proper function.

News reports started to materialize depicting the significant impact of flooding in multiple communities near to us. Roads were closed, families evacuated from their homes, cars swept off the road and occupants found standing on their vehicle rooftops in the adjacent ditch. The way the valleys around local creeks flood after downpours brings to mind the historical flood I wrote about from when my ancestors lived nearby.

Surveying our woods after things calmed down yesterday, Cyndie found the boardwalk we created suffered some disruption.











It’s just enough disturbance to frustrate us, but compared to a lot of other flood damage possibilities, not all that onerous.

I looked out the window and noticed an upturned stump I’d never seen before.

Luckily, that tree tipped away from our house and toward the woods.

Cyndie spent much of the afternoon moving furniture and mopping up in the basement. We still need to check the shingles for hail damage.

We are hoping no additional damage will be revealed and things will dry up before the next round of precipitation moves in.

A little peace and quiet would be a welcome change about now.



Written by johnwhays

June 30, 2020 at 6:00 am