Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘thunderstorms

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

June 30, 2020 at 6:00 am

Duly Moved

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Last night I watched the award-winning documentary, Free Solo about Alex Honnold’s epic climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. What a masterpiece of a film! I highly recommend it. I was duly moved by the intimate glimpse into Alex’s life, and the inclusion of the emotional challenges of those around him coping with the immensity of the monumental risk he was facing in his quest to climb that granite monolith without ropes.

Alex points out that any of us could die at any moment, whether doing something risky, or not. I tend to avoid things with a high risk of death whenever possible, but it is true that my life could end at any time. One way I interpret his thinking is to frame myself as “free soloing” all the time.

It made my walk with Delilah a little more exciting than normal after the movie.

She suffered a bit of a panic inside her overnight safe-space crate yesterday morning when a rowdy thunderstorm rumbled over top of us at oh-dark-thirty. I didn’t have much success trying to assure her we weren’t in jeopardy as I prepared to leave for work, which made it rather stressful for me to walk out the door and leave her alone until Maddie was due to show up an hour or two later.

I soothed myself by considering how she would greet me when I got home at the end of the day, as if clueless that anything out of the ordinary had happened earlier, which turned out to be true. She did.

We then made the rounds on the property, hiking the perimeter trails and surveying the results of the wild weather. There were 2.5 inches of rain in the gauge and the ground is fully saturated, but no new-fallen trees or limbs, thank goodness. That much rain, or more, is expected to fall before this weather event is done and gone.

We will carry on and survive to the best of our ability, even though I now have this new sense that I am doing it all without the benefit of any ropes.

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Wetter Today

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There is nothing quite like the ripping of rain-soaked air by the high heat energy of a lightning strike that explodes in close proximity. That ever so brief searing tear of the atmospheric fabric, then accented by a concussive BOOM! that startles even though it is obviously about to happen, is the stuff of my childhood terrors.

Even some of the kabooms from farther away that don’t trigger a panic reaction are powerful enough that the walls of our house creak and windows flex. And, yes, it makes our dog bark in a faux bravery attempt to shout down the perceived threat.

We knew this stormy weather was coming. A whole weekend of it. The future predictors (meteorologists) told us about it, right down to the hours when it would be intense.

I lucked out yesterday, as the partially cloudy day stayed dry in our area, though radar indicated it was rainy just to our south. It allowed me to get the already too long grass mowed in the nick of time, and then squeak in my very first bike ride of the season.

No pressure or anything, but I did register for another week of biking and camping in June, so conditioning my butt to tolerate extended hours on the saddle is once again on my to-do list.

There are worse burdens in this world.

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Getting back out on the open road, seeing an endless ribbon of pavement rolled out before me, breathing (panting) the fresh country air, having close encounters with protective old farm dogs, waving at folks gawking at the silly human pedaling for conveyance, is both physical exercise and mental refreshment.

Feeling the wind pushing against your face, as well as from behind, since I chose to ride in a big square of all four directions, connects with the elements in a way that car travel completely eliminates.

In my current living situation, claiming hours for pedaling along idly doesn’t happen without a bigger reason to force it, so the bike trip becomes something of a cause and effect. It’s not like the old days when I would ride my bike for miles, to and from work every day. Back then, by the time June came around, I was more than prepared for day-long rides.

I am grateful that I was able to launch my road bike for its season opener on a dry day yesterday. If I am to follow that up with a second ride this weekend, it’s going to be much wetter.

Just like those future-tellers predicted.

Hopefully, I can time it so as to avoid the lightning and thunder.

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Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2019 at 7:58 am

Stormy Monday

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It’s not original, but I couldn’t help myself with that title. It was stormy last night. What can I say?

The weather service warnings and the radar images looked more ominous than what we ultimately experienced, but there was still plenty of bluster and a relatively quick 2-inches collected in the rain gauge. The main thing that moderated the impact was the speed with which the storm line was moving.

The wind burst was short-lived and the rain lasted only about a half of an hour. Then a sky-show followed when the sun popped out to illuminate the last minutes before it dropped below the horizon.

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I had stayed in the house while Cyndie and Delilah were scouting the grounds to assess for damage, but soon received a text from her reporting the clouds were worth my heading out to see.

In addition to it being wonderfully scenic out there, the air temperature had dropped by almost 20 degrees, making it noticeably more comfortable, too. I strolled the long way around to return to the house and came upon our regular visiting white tail doe with two fawns grazing in our back pasture.

I think I startled them, as they made a hasty exit through, and over, the fence to disappear down the trail into our woods.

We are counting our blessings to have experienced such minimal disruption to our property. The only obvious evidence of the intensity our trees endured was the number of leaves scattered on the ground.

Maybe the storm drained off the most dangerous energy before it arrived to us. News reports last night indicated the Red Wing airport, just 20-minutes south of us, clocked a wind gust at 82 mph, which knocked down some hangars.

Leaves us hoping that Tuesday won’t be just as bad.

I don’t see how it could be, since the heat and humidity that fueled the severe weather yesterday has now been replaced my much cooler and dryer air. Yesterday morning was so warm and humid at 5:00 a.m. that even the rear view mirror mounted to the windshield in my car was steamed up during my commute.

The television broadcast meteorologist was marveling over the fact it had been cloudy all day and still the heat index climbed to 89 degrees (F). The high dew point temperature in the 70s was an obvious contributor to that.

At least, according to the song, the eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to play.

Yes, it was a Stormy Monday.

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2018 at 6:00 am