Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘thunderstorms

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

Wild Life

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Lately, the night views at the coop have been dominated by the masked bandits. Luckily, despite their regular visits, there isn’t anything left out overnight to reward them.

Doesn’t prevent them from checking, just in case.

The only other (not-so) wild life we captured shots of recently was a neighbor’s cat. It sat for over ten minutes with its body facing the camera, but the head was always twisted side to side or around backwards. I don’t know why it didn’t just turn around.

I think maybe it was trying to see where that rabbit went that had been filling our memory card with pictures the previous week. That critter was pouncing back and forth across the view all night long.

The other wildness we have been enjoying was in the sky. Cyndie snapped this panorama as a thundering shower loomed large over the ranch.

I had just finished mowing and was putting the tractor in the garage when the first giant drops started slapping the ground.

It was a wild day of chores yesterday, after I squeaked in a short bike ride to start my exhausting day. Our grove of trees by the road was expanding to obscure the view of traffic coming down the hill, so I hauled out the pole chainsaw and did some highway crew style pruning.

No mercy.

Being clever, I put the battery charger on the truck before heading out on my bike ride earlier, thinking I might want to load the cuttings into the pickup so I wouldn’t have to work on chipping them near traffic.

There is a phantom load draining the battery that we haven’t been able to identify. I have finally heeded advice from a smart thinking friend and purchased a switch to protect the battery. After all the branches were loaded in the back, I parked the truck at the shop to install the device while the battery had some life to it.

I bought a unit that will automatically switch out the battery when it senses the voltage drop to a certain point. To reconnect, we simply press the brake pedal or toggle the headlights and the switch re-engages the battery to start the truck. This way, we don’t have to pop the hood and open or close the switch every time we use the truck.

We never know how long an interval it will be between uses, and both Cyndie and I are prone to forgetting just this kind of occasional detail.

With the installation complete, I moved on to the lawn tractor to finish the yard that I started Thursday afternoon, before that round of all-night thunderstorms. On my bike ride in the morning, I saw a lot of farm fields with brand new lakes in them. Our rain gauge indicated over 4-inches had fallen overnight.

Low on gas, and running out of time before the next thunderstorm, I wildly hustled to the arena to mow that, too.

By the time Cyndie and I called it a day, the clock had reached 7:30 p.m.

Another wild day in our wild life.

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Distant Thunder

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We had plenty of warning last night that heavy weather was going to visit. The majority of thundering was happening well to our south for about an hour before it moved in and started dropping rain on us. The sun was just setting when the edge of the billowing tower of clouds became visible, giving them a foreboding glow.

It was a late night for me, as I crammed to get some manure management done before we head out of town for the weekend. It’s a job I have been neglecting for enough days that it was going to be a problem for our horse-sitter while we are gone if I didn’t do something before leaving.

And, we are leaving this afternoon. In fact, I am leaving from work. Our plan is to meet at the airport in Eden Prairie to fly to Barb and Mike’s lake place near Grand Rapids.

After completing my manure chores, I needed to haul some hay into the barn for the weekend. Then it was time to shower and pack. I struggle every night just figuring out what I will wear the next morning for work, and that got amplified last night by needing to also think through a weekend of possible needs.

Since we are flying four people in a small plane, the goal is to pack light.

It’s a great recipe for forgetting something, if you ask me.

I packed a swim suit, and my sunglasses, so I at least have the essentials if something else was overlooked.

Now we are just hoping there is no thunder happening along our flight path during the hours we hope to fly. If the weather isn’t friendly enough, we’ll simply drive up north instead. Which, in that case, would mean I could then haul up more than I need, like I usually tend to do.

Maybe I should toss all my heavy non-essential items in my car just in case. It usually turns out that if I bring extra stuff, I won’t have a need for it. The need only arises if I don’t bring something.

It’s like a law of physics or something. Probably a cousin of Murphy’s Law.

Wish us some flying luck! It’ll be pretty sweet if we are able to pull it off. Who wouldn’t want to cut the travel time to the lake in half?

Here’s hoping any thunder is REALLY distant during the appointed hours of our planned travel.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Humid Sunday

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Muggy. Tropical dew points muggy is what we are facing. I looked back in the archives to posts I made around this time last year and discovered a very similar theme. It is influencing our decisions about what to do and yesterday we changed plans several times, setting lofty goals about what projects we were going to tackle and then backing off to keep from fighting against the elements.

Just a walk around the property led to fatigue and clothing stuck to our bodies. I think both Cyndie and I share an equal dread for that feeling. It made it easy to jointly bag the plans of heavy labor and happily return to the geothermally air-conditioned comfort of our log home. Delilah also seemed uncharacteristically eager to return to the house. I sure wouldn’t want to be wearing her coat this time of year.

We wondered about what we could do to provide some comfort to the horses, settling on bringing two at a time for a walk up the hill of our driveway into some lush grass to graze where there was a bit of a breeze. We have decided not to leave their fly masks on overnight, supposing it may be interfering with their night vision, because they have been finding ways to get them pretty messed up or stripped off their heads altogether by mornings. Not that the flies have gone away. In fact, quite the opposite, as it appears the recent rains have fueled a robust new hatch.

While spending the extra time ensconced in the cool confines of indoors, we ended up taking on one of those cleaning chores that you don’t tend to do until it is absolutely required. Cyndie noticed the juices from a package of hamburger had leaked all over the place in the refrigerator. It started slowly, her working on part of one shelf. Then everything on that shelf was moved to the counter. I stepped in to get the glass of the shelf lifted out. Next, the fruit and vegetable drawers were emptied and removed. The farther into it we got, the more we decided to do, eventually making it to levels that we hadn’t bothered to clean when we first moved in.

Take that, humid summer Sunday!

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By evening, the predicted evening thunderstorms sporadically popped up around us, and occasionally, right overhead. In between a couple, I went for a walk with Delilah and enjoyed the spectacular sky views. It was a Sunday of making custom musical playlists, computer work, lollygagging, comfort foods, and judiciously distributed forays into the thick, hot air of outdoors. That’s about as close to a day off as I needed.

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Written by johnwhays

August 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

Back Live

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IMG_3950eI am back with live posts today —not pre-written and scheduled— having successfully survived and returned from the most challenging of bike camping adventures that I have ever done. We made plenty of jokes about planning a bicycle trip in a region that has been selected as a good place to have a wind turbine farm.

The challenge of riding daily into unrelenting gale-force headwinds was compounded by the addition of a surprising wave-after-wave of severe thunderstorms, drenching this region that was previously enduring a drought. The unprecedented amount of rain in that short time seriously flooded farm fields, creating flash floods that over-ran banks, flooded homes and washed out roads.

IMG_3927eFor some reason that I don’t understand, I had the unfortunate luck of adding to the misery by getting sick with a sore throat, stuffy head, and congested lungs. I don’t know if it was just a bad coincidence of timing or whether the weather conditions and close proximity to a large group of people happened to be the trigger.

Last week was one tough vacation. At the same time, it was as fun as ever. I hope to tell you more about it in the days ahead. Right now I am faced with the burden of deciding if I can go back to bed to repair my ailing health or get after the mowing and manure management chores that are in dire need of attention.

The same storms that dominated our bike week moved across the state and soaked Wintervale Ranch. We’ve got additional trees tipped over that I will need to cut up and move, just to get to the manure pile.

The bed is looking more and more enticing as my current preferred option.

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Acknowledged Risk

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Yesterday was supposed to be the day I took Cyndie back to where her surgery was performed, for an appointment to get her stitches out. We ended up rescheduling, when the risk of severe storms loomed large for the time we would be on the road. It turned out to be a smart decision.

Our dog, Delilah, has been demonstrating an extreme anxiety over rumbles of thunder. Unfortunately, the thunder-booming storms started here on Wednesday evening, and her panic-barking kept me up until well past midnight. I was at the veterinarian’s office yesterday to pick up some new tick repellent, since our previous product isn’t doing the trick, and when I happened to mention Delilah’s anxiety, they asked me what we “give her” for it.

Hadn’t entered my mind to medicate her. Their first recommendation was Benadryl, but they also reminded me of the “thundershirt,” a hugging body wrap that calms dogs. Good idea.

Shortly after I returned from the vet visit, our predicted rough weather rolled in. I’ve been through worse, but we did receive a blast of wind, small hail, and heavy rain that more than convinced us we made the right decision to stay home. If we had gone, Delilah would have been trapped outside in her kennel during the worst of it. The folks at the vet’s office said dogs can, and do, injure themselves in their efforts to escape whatever is causing their anxiety.IMG_3734e

That wind would have probably put her into a tizzy, especially when it picked up and rolled over my woodshed, which is located right next to her kennel.

Lesson learned on the heartiness of simply standing the structure on stones in the ground. That was the design I chose, even though I knew it was a risk. On the bright side, it gives me a chance to try building my second structure ever, using what I learned on the first one. I guess the next one will have posts buried well into the ground.

I’ve discovered an interesting fact about how I see our woods. No matter how familiar I think I am with the views, after a big wind storm, I have difficulty identifying what is new damage, and what is old. There are plenty of downed or leaning trees and broken branches. In the area near the up-turned woodshed, something doesn’t look right to me, but I’m not certain if it is damage from yesterday’s event, or something previous.

Actually, with another inch of rain increasing the saturation of our ground, it’s a wonder there are any trees left standing at all.

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Written by johnwhays

May 9, 2014 at 6:00 am

Weather Drama

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The dramatic weather events seem to be never-ending here. Yes, it has been the wettest spring that anyone can remember, and this pattern is following the dry fall season that had us suffering under drought conditions. Now, we have entered a pattern of severe thunderstorms that keep rolling through, one after another.

We got rocked out of bed early on Friday morning, by a particularly thunderous storm. I headed to work in the darkness of driving rain, and came upon a very large tree limb, lying in a farm field. It was a big surprise to me, because there were no trees around from which the limb could have come. I turned onto a county road and a short distance further, I came to corner where a few houses are located, and every tree around appeared to be severely broken off, or completely uprooted. The debris completely covered the road.

I stopped my car, put on my raincoat, and stepped out to check if it would be possible to drive around the broken limbs. I discovered that just beyond the first few branches, a giant tree completely blocked the road. Then I noticed, that tree had also brought down a power line that was in the tangled mess of branches, just a step in front of me. I quickly returned to my car and turned around to backtrack to an alternate route.

One thing about that morning storm, as the intensity waned, the lightning flashed non-stop, yet there was only a rare rumble of thunder. It was strange to see so much flashing, without receiving the follow-up thunder booms. Last night, it was just the opposite. There was a storm in the distance that was giving off a constant rumble, even though we couldn’t see the corresponding lightning flashes.

In an interesting turn of events from the “it’s a small world” files, I think we made progress on the plan to get someone to cut our hay. Cyndie and I were hoping our neighbor who runs the CSA farm might be interested. Cyndie initiated contact by email, and received a phone message in response. He didn’t say, ‘no,’ but he hedged it a bit by saying that they are pretty busy trying to get their own hay cut and baled, in between rain storms. We figured we better keep looking for other options.

Yesterday afternoon, our fence guy called to check in, and expressed his vested interest in our getting the growth cut from the areas they will be trying to work. He hadn’t yet found anyone to take on our task, and was talking over ideas with me, when he suddenly had an inspiration. It occurred to him to call the “co-op.” He hung up to do so, right away.

It was hardly a minute later that my phone rang again, this time with a call from that very neighbor we were hoping could help us. He tells me the co-op just called him to see if he could cut my hay field!

It didn’t seem like enough time had passed for my fence guy to have made the first call, let alone the co-op person then reaching our neighbor, before he then made the call to me. He said they described my place and gave my name, and he was able to say that he knew me already.

I think he will be able to help us, but we are still subject to needing to wait for the right weather. He needs a batch of four consecutive dry days.

At the rate we are going, if that ever happens, it will be a dramatic weather event, in its own right. Four consecutive dry days?!

Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2013 at 7:00 am