Sunday, August 14, 2005

Riding the Storm Out

Ow! Ow! Ow! Here's why there wasn't much in the way of blogging from me or anyone else in my area last night.

storm damage

Before you become concerned, no... that's not my house. But the guy lives about a mile from me. Yep. There I was, minding my own business. (Don't all incredible stories start that way?) I had decided to relax and watch a little bit of the PGA Championship third round. Suddenly, the feed cuts away to a blue screen and the loud, obnoxious buzzing sound floods the room. It's a National Weather Service alert. (Please tune to channel four for details.) I obediently flip the channel, being the good little civic defender I am, and they give me an ear full.

Apparently there is a "Dangerous Thunderstorm Warning" being issued, which "may result in heavy rain, quarter sized hail, and damaging winds gusting up to 70 mph." There was no specific mention of Vikings invading the village, nor warnings to take the womenfolk and cattle to the hills, but it wasn't hard to imagine. The thing about these warnings these days is how frighteningly precise they have gotten. They were listing not just the counties, nor the townships where the storm was located and where it was expected to go, but rather the specific neighborhoods and the times it was expected to arrive, broken down into five minute segments.

I looked at the warning and at my clock. If they were right, I had about eight minutes before the storm hit my area. Rather than taking any chances, I powered down the computers, refilled my coffee mug, and walked out onto my front porch to "take in the show." (I've always been fascinated by storms.)

Checking my watch, it was precisely nine minutes later when the first drops of rain began to fall and the wind started to kick up from the West. Within moments it was upon us. Smaller trees on the street were bending over like the Queen herself was passing by. In short order, the rain began to mix with hail. At first the hail stones were quite small, but being pushed on by a wind which I could easily believe was at sixty or seventy miles an hour, they looked lethal. The fact that my front porch faces East is the only reason I could stand outside to observe, but even then the wind coming between houses was doing some nasty, gusty gymnastics, and the odd hailstone was still bouncing in onto the porch with me. Lighting bolts lit up the cloudy sky almost without a break, and booming thunder literally shook the ground.

The hail got larger. It never reached literal "golf ball size", for which I'm thankful, but some of those ice rocks were definitely 3/4 of an inch across. Had you walked out in it, you would have taken a serious beating. I began to fear for the windows in the house.

Then, as suddenly as it began, it was gone. The hail turned back to rain, which slowed to a drizzle. The thunderous winds died down to a mild breeze. The thunderbolts moved off to the East, echoing in the hills. Oddly, through all of this, we never lost power for more than a few seconds. However, the fire sirens told me that there was wind damage around town. Returning inside and powering up the computers, I got what I expected. Roadrunner was offline - no cable phone, no television, and no internet access. We got cable back a few hours later, but the internet access was gone until after I went to bed. This morning, all seems to be well.

Ah, the wonders of nature, baby! A storm like that only gives us a direct hit a few times a year, and it still thrills me to see. Now to go begin dragging part of my neighbor's tree out of my back yard and chopping it up. Happy Sunday, everyone.

No comments: