Thursday, May 16, 2013

Careful what I wish for

I love "weather".  I mean the kind that goes FLASH and BOOM!  I love it when you can see it coming from miles away, and then you can smell it, and then finally you hunker down back inside and watch it blow over.  And afterwards, the air smells so clean, and hopefully has been scrubbed clean of all that nasty pollen that gives me such fits.

I vividly remember one spring back in about 1970 when I was a student at Harvard On The Plains (Texas Tech to you).  Every evening for about two weeks we had what they passed off as "dinner" in our dorm cafeteria, then went back to our west-facing rooms and watched the storms build to the west.  

They grew bigger and taller until finally winds at altitude began shearing off the tops, giving them that distinctive "anvil" head.  It sucked together whatever moisture it could find in the dry West Texas sky, and finally dumped it on top of us, complete with an accompanying light show.  Awesome!

One night it lasted for 6+ hours.  There was a flash / boom every 3 or 4 seconds, all night long.  The next day everyone you met around town was bleary-eyed from lack of sleep.  It was the talk of the town for sure.

Sometimes there were tornadoes involved, too.  In the springtime in West Texas they're common.  In fact, we made a game out of chasing them.  Today "storm chasers" have mobile 4G computer access to satellites and know where the tornadoes are likely to spawn.  It's become a fine art.

We weren't that sophisticated.  We were just a bunch of guys with a car, a full tank of gas, and nothing better to do. Well, except for studying.  Knowing that tornadoes generally travel SW to NE, we'd just maneuver ourselves SW of one and follow it.  

Most were harmless.  In the vast expanse of the South Plains of Texas there isn't much to hit.  Sadly, a few found their way to town, as in June, 1971 when one hit Lubbock and killed 26 people.  The apartment I had left the day before to go home for the summer was one of the casualties.

This is what the sky looked like yesterday evening around Cleburne, TX, just south of Dallas/Foat Wuth.  That dastardly funnel in the center of the picture was one of 10 (?) that plowed across North Texas last night.  Six people didn't survive, and property damage was extensive.  (My area was well north and experienced no damage at all.)

I still love weather, but now I'm wise enough to take it more seriously.  It can bite hard.

Prayers to those affected last night.



  1. we don't get them often up here and they are smaller. I've only seen two close up and they scared the bejesus out of me!

  2. That weather can be pretty scary.

  3. So scary! I woke up to a thunder storm this morning - all safe & snug in my bed. Didn't even consider the possibility of a tornado - & I live in a town that was razed by tornadoes in 1974. Guess I should pay more attention!

  4. I always think about you when I hear about tornadoes in Texas. Glad you weathered this one okay. Take care, and my best thoughts to those affected by this tragedy.

  5. I saw one in Indiana some years ago from about a mile away. When it looked like it was turning toward us, we fled. Actually it hadn't come toward us but tore hell out of an apartment complex.

  6. I don't mind thunder and lightning, but tornadoes scare me. I hope I never have to experience one.