My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, June 17, 2013

Let's Talk About the (Wicked) Weather...

Most of the time it was probably real bad being stuck down in a dungeon.  
But some days, when there was a bad storm outside, 
you'd look out your little window and think, "Boy, I'm glad I'm not out in that."
~ Jack Handy's "Deep Thoughts" (from Saturday Night Live) :-)

The weather has sure made for a rather savage spring in a lot of places around the country and the world, including our little corner of it! As I mentioned in my last SkyWatch post, our weather last week was turbulent and often violent. We had a series of storms, each one noteworthy for an extreme version of a weather phenom: lightning, rain, hail, and wind. Here's a recap of what dominated local news and conversations this week (along with the awful fire in Colorado Springs)...

The series of wild storms began last Friday night, with the thunderstorm I mentioned in my Post-Yard Sale Fiesta post. I didn't get any photos, but for those of us unable to sleep through the meteorological equivalent of a night of nuclear detonations in our back yard, the intensity and frequency of the lightning and the eardrum-bursting volume of the thunder was the hot topic Saturday morning! 

After a chilly, gusty Saturday, a warm and lovely Sunday, and another very gusty day Monday, an uncomfortably muggy (for this usually dry climate) Tuesday brought more notable weather. We were under such dire severe thunderstorm warnings that afternoon that I grabbed my camera and photographed some flowers I'd admired on my walk with the dogs that morning, figuring they wouldn't survive the predicted weather...

Pretty Poppies
(I saw these again on Sunday - the spunky red ones took a lethal beating, 
while the dainty-hued pink ones were totally unscathed! Just goes to show...)

Not sure what this is called - snowball bush? - but they're quite popular here
 and this is the most impressive one I've seen. I also saw it again on Sunday,
 and though it had a carpet of white petals beneath it, it was still loaded with blossoms.

And then the scary monster arrived...

...turning the sky darker than I've ever seen daytime skies turn when not experiencing a total solar eclipse, and bringing more 60mph wind gusts, an impressive amount of pea and dime-sized hail, and torrential rain that caused flash floods. Here's a quick bit of the local coverage with a couple of photos, and here are a couple of videos I shot through two upstairs windows, mostly for the sound of the hail, which I thought was pretty impressive (having no idea what Thursday would have in store!)...

But after every storm comes the calm. So here is Mr. Peabody, one of our resident pheasants (we call all male pheasants "Mr. Peabody") in our next door neighbor's back yard after the rain and hail stopped, apparently come calling to discuss the storm with his pelican friends. ;-) Despite their stony expressions (*snork*), I think the pelicans probably enjoyed it a lot more than Mr. Peabody did...

Someone told me our rain amount of more than an inch in 15 minutes made the national news. I can't verify that, but at our house the rain came down in blinding sheets for about 20 minutes and, as you can see, filled our rain gauge with 1.6" of water, while the Weather Channel reported a total of just under 2½ inches of precipitation for that day (which would have included some more rain that fell that night)...

Too bad some of this couldn't have fallen on Colorado Springs!

Wednesday brought more thunderstorms, more gusty winds, and another ¾" of rain in our rain gauge, ho-hum. And then came Thursday.

BW stopped by the house as he usually does around 3pm, and when I greeted him at the door I noticed with alarm that the sky was absolutely black. So I got online to check for weather bulletins, and sure enough there was another severe thunderstorm bearing down on us and spotters in the direction it was coming from said it had ping-pong sized hail. I battened down the few hatches I hadn't already battened (and had left battened) on Tuesday, and hoped for the best. But though it did toss a few icy ping-pong balls at us (the half-dozen or fewer that hit our roof sounded like 2x4's dropped from an airplane!) along with more pea-sized stuff, and blew like stink (as usual) and rained hard (as usual), it only lasted a few minutes and then the sun came out and all was calm (I thought).

Not even the loud hail sounds could distract me from the unusual sight out our front window, though... the mist that rose from the hot pavement when the rain started to hit it and was then blown down the street by the gusty winds, looking like fine, blowing snow. I shot one video of it during the storm, and another after the sun came back out...

After it passed, I walked down the street and took some photos of the storm as it moved away from us (one of which was in my SkyWatch post). It was so huge, I could only fit less than half the expanse of storm cloud in my frame...

The rest of the evening was unremarkable until Robyn called me at around 6pm and asked me how bad it was at our house. "How bad what is?" I said, baffled by the question. "The damage from the ping-pong sized hail!" she answered. I told her we only got a little bit for a minute or two, and it didn't do much more than knock some little branches off our little trees, why? Turns out that hail storm cut a destructive swath through Robyn's neighborhood (where several other of our friends live) and the north end of town, while only grazing us and not affecting most of the town at all. Poor Robyn - the hail did enough damage to the shingles (and hopefully only the shingles) on their two-year old roof that it needs to be replaced, punched holes in her vinyl siding, pummeled (and probably totaled) their Honda Ridgeline, broke her fountain, cracked the main pipe from the house to their sprinkler system, dented her greenhouse panels, oblitered her flowers and veggie garden, and even knocked some of the metal leaves off her new faerie cart! :-( She said the hail was piled several inches thick against her fence.

Meanwhile, BW's boss (and many others, no doubt) also has to have his roof, including the sheathing, replaced. In addition, many trees, gardens, vehicles, and skylights in the affected part of town were damaged or destroyed, and even birds were knocked right out of the trees and nests and killed. :'-( Our friend and eye doctor Tim, whose beautifully landscaped house is right near Robyn's and so also suffered damage, normally would have had his car parked at his office in an unaffected area. But Thursday wasn't his day at all, as it was the day he goes to see patients at the VA Hospital - and the VA was right in the path of the hailstorm. He said his little car was "toast." 

But no words can describe it as well as photos can... so here's more local media coverage (check out at least the first several seconds of that second video - whoa!) and here are some of the impressive photos of the hail stones and of the some of the equally impressive hail accumulation and local devastation, most of it at the north end of town.

And even after all that, the weather wasn't through with us. At about midnight, some invisible, fiendish force flipped on the wind switch and the fiercest wind I've ever heard started screaming and roaring around our house. I have no idea how hard it blew, since the airport on the other side of town, which measures the official wind speeds in Sheridan, doesn't get nearly the wind that we do up here. But they still recorded 58 mph gusts that night - I'd guess the wind gusts here were close to 70mph! 

We've been enjoying beautiful weather since that final, epic fit of fury Thursday. But don't think we're not keeping a close and wary eye on the skies these days, and not just for photo ops!

And finally in non-weather news, tomorrow is our Silver (25th) Wedding Anniversary! Our 2-week vacation in the PNW at the end of the month is our anniversary gift to ourselves, but the only silver involved (besides what's in our hair) is the color of our Highlander Hybrid we're driving out there. :-)

to us! :-)


  1. Yes, I wish some of that rain could have fallen here last weekend. We usually get several storms like that in a summer. Great weather shots - that cloud is perfect, I love seeing things like that!

    1. It seems to be like that every summer - one area of the country experiencing drought and/or fires while another is suffering from flooding. If I were in charge of the weather, it would all be doled out more fairly and evenly! :-)

      We get several big thunderstorms every early-mid summer here too, but all the really high winds we've been having is unusual ("What's with this damned wind?" could be overheard daily all over town for a couple of weeks!) and that size and huge amount of hail was definitely unusual! It doesn't usually get that large until it's further out over the plains.

      That cloud was really beautiful - too bad it did so much ugly damage!

  2. Ah, deep thoughts. I used to love those on SNL!

    I adore poppies. Such delicate, pretty flowers. At least the pink ones withstood the weather, which surprises me! That's a lot of rain! We had quite the downpour on Saturday night with a lot of thunder, but I don't know how much we got. Enough to fill our ditch again, which had finally dried up.

    This mist that came up from the road is very cool. We've had that happen here quite a few times, but never that much of it!

    So horrible that the hail caused so much damage. Totaling Robyn's Ridgeline (!!) and killing birds. Oh my. :( We were just talking about hail on our drive home from our hike about an hour ago and saying how much it would stink if our Ridgeline & Airstream were ever damaged by it. I'm so sorry that Robyn had that all happen!

    On a much happier note, Happy Anniversary to you & BW!!! 25 years, that's so wonderful! I'm excited about your trip and hope you two enjoy your special day together!

    1. I know, some of them just crack me up! I was going to use something more serious and profound, but when I found that quote I knew I had to have it. :-)

      Oh, you'd love some of the places around here - poppies (especially the orange ones) are VERY popular! They look so tissue-papery, it's a wonder any of them withstood that storm, but I also saw big bunches of the orange ones yesterday looking no worse for wear. Think we may have to plant some ourselves in our front flower bed! Are you glad your ditch is re-filled? Didn't know if that's a good thing or a mosquito problem thing for you!

      I thought of you when she was telling me their Ridgeline was probably totaled! And we had just been admiring it (Jesse really babied it and it looked new, even though it was an '06) after the yard sale. It's too bad Jess keeps all his workout equipment in their garage, or he would have had a place to park it inside! Robyn told me yesterday about a weird thing that happened - though the body of the truck looks like someone went to town on it with a ball bat, the windshield looked fine. Till it had sat out in the hot sun all day and then they got in it and turned on the a/c - the entire windshield cracked from side to side! Robyn thinks a hailstone must have chipped the edge where they couldn't see it. It would more than stink if your new Airstream and Ridgeline suffered hail damage (or any damage), so I'd just travel to AZ and NM during hail storm season! :-) I know, poor Robyn - she's in the middle of a stressful project that got dumped on her at work and now this. She's got a very resilient, calm and positive personality, but even she sounded weary and disgusted yesterday, and who can blame her! (She hadn't even heard from an adjustor yet, but she'd had a couple of contractors out).

      Thank you! I cannot believe it's been 25 years! Only OLD people celebrate 25th anniversaries! At least that's what I used to think! LOL Unfortunately, BW has to work today - he's been putting in some grueling weeks lately, they're so short-handed. So we'll have a delayed celebration when we dine at Sutra with our friend Mike and his friend/roomie Charlene in Seattle! :-)

    2. Oh no, not a good thing when our ditch is wet at all. Mike can't mow it, so it gets pretty wild looking and the mosquitoes just love it. Ugh.

      Yikes, it does sound like Robyn is being put through the ringer! I'm glad she's keeping a positive attitude, though.

      Hopefully BW is surprised by getting off earlier tonight. That stinks that he has to work so much on your special day!

    3. I wondered if the skeeters were an issue with a water-filled ditch, but was hoping it was like the irrigation ditch that went through our rental property down in Buffalo - it flowed fast enough that we didn't have mosquitos, and could hear the sound of the water at night if our window was open. Why is there a ditch on your place - is it intentional? Can you fill it in?

      It does stink, doesn't it? Plus he's having to do a hybrid route (his route plus parts of another driver's route) that he DESPISES, and he's had to do it a LOT lately. He thought he'd at least just be doing his route today, but found out when he went in this morning that they cut a route so he has to do it again. Not only does he hate it, it also means he can't call me on his lunch break or stop by the house in the afternoon like he usually does! Happy Anniversary from UPS! Bah.

  3. Well.....I'm just glad you came out of all that nasty weather virtually unscathed. It could have been much worse, as poor Robyn found out! I checked out your local news photos and I have to say I've never seen that much hail....nothing even close! Boy....when you get it, you really get it. Intense weather can be quite scary, huh?
    And....most importantly....a very Happy Silver Anniversary to you two ;-). It can't be possible that I've known you about 15 of those years! I'd say your trip to the PNW is a very good present. xoxoxo

    1. Thanks, Spudly, we are too. Believe me, all the shit we went through at our old place was enough for anyone's lifetime! We really dodged a bullet (or a bunch of golf-ball sized bullets, zipping vertically through the air) this time, and wish the same could be said for others! I just don't get the point of hail at all! That's another thing I'd change were I in charge (see my reply to Al for further details, lol) - I'd get rid of hail. Gentle soft, soaking rains that fall at night, and during the occasional cozy day, and pretty fluffy snow that falls between Thanksgiving and New Year's (except at ski resorts, where it can fall longer and be the perfect consistency for skiing) and never needs shoveling. Otherwise, partly sunny skies (for we enjoy our cloud-watching!) with 75º-80ºF days and 33% humidity would be the norm. Oh, and fog now and then - I love fog. Doesn't my world sound lovely? (Everyone would be vegan there too, of course - even the predators. For my world would have no violence in it, which is why hail is forbidden. LOL) :-)

    2. P.S. I mean to also thank you for checking out those links - those photos and videos are really something, aren't they? Especially that middle vid, which goes on a bit long but is really amazing/scary to watch! And yeah, those hailstone drifts are also impressive! We do have weather extremes here, which can be startling even after living here nearly 24 years. So many of the days are so beautiful, even in winter! Guess that's why a lot of us keep staying - besides, where can one go that doesn't have something to contend with (unless it's my paradisical world of my own creation, but that's just in my imagination and I don't know how we can all get there and build perfect little Hobbit houses!) :-)

      Thank you for your anniversary wishes! Wow, I guess we have known each other that long! We got our WebTV after we got home from a trip to the UK, but now can't remember if that was our first trip in 1996 or our second in 1998, but either way I "met" you in 40UP soon after so that's at least 15 years ago! Time flies when you're having fun, huh? :-) Glad I got to see you through some of the Nad-Grabbing years and now get to watch you enjoy your retirement! :-)

    3. Also, the vids you took really brought your weather close to home. I was surprised to not hear your either shriek out loud or throw a few choice words out there....I would have! When we get hail here, it's a big deal. I don't understand hail either...something you and I need to get fixed ;-).
      It's funny that you mention your view of how the world and it's weather should be. It took me back to American Lit. in high school when I decided to do a paper based on some writer's ( I forget who) Utopia. In my regulated and scripted world, it only rained on Monday in perfectly measured amounts. Hey, my teacher loved it since I stuck to the!
      By the way, we're getting some really cool air from Canada tonight and tomorrow......feels like Wyoming ;-).

    4. Poo, Safari quit on me and I lost everything I'd written in my reply so far! Well, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted...

      If I had been filming the hailstorm they got in Robyn's neighborhood, you can bet my language would have gotten me banned from YouTube for life! But we experienced worse hailstorms than this one (in my videos) back in Texas, and even in Big Horn, so I guess I've grown jaded. :-) But not so jaded I'm not totally up for collaborating with you to banish hail from the Earth's weather!! Let's get right on that...

      LOL about it your Utopian ideal of it raining only on Mondays (since Mondays suck anyway, just get all the icky crap over with at once, was that your idea? What about Monday holidays? I think you should have chosen Tuesdays. Or Monday nights. (Bet you're glad I wasn't your nit-picky teacher, eh?) :-)

      Enjoy that cool Canadian air! I had to wear a jacket walking the dogs at 5:45 this morning, and even now I'm shivering as wonderfully chilly air is blowing in through the study windows. We're making the most of it while we can, the sun (which is on the other side of the house right now) is already hot! I'll be running the A/C today for only the second time this year. But the next few days it's supposed to be in the 70's. Nice!

    5. Enjoy your upcoming weather. Ours is still gorgeous! Breakfast on the patio this morning numbed our bare! But, warmer and more humid (yuck!) is coming by tomorrow.
      As for me making it rain only on Mondays in my Utopia thesis, back in "my" high school days, we didn't have them there three day Monday holiday things ;-). TW, Mrs. Williams was quite the somehow I usually made her happy....and got all A's ;-). xoxoxo

    6. Enjoy it while it last! I wish it would last all summer for you.
      LOL - no Monday holidays when you were a young'un? And here I thought they'd "invented" those BEFORE 1835. :-)~

      Pleasing a nitpicky teacher and getting all A's from them is so much more gratifying than it is with an easily satisfied teacher, isn't it? Plus I always learned so much more from those tough teachers. I had a couple of really demanding English teachers growing up, and thank goodness for them! (My hard math teachers were tyrants, though, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. LOL)

    7. Oh....don't get me started about math teachers! No fun at all! Mrs. Williams was tough, but a delight in the long run. We had to graph every Shakespeare play by ascending action, climax, and descending action. That woman loved her literature!
      Oh yeah......Happy Summer!!

  4. Happy anniversary. I am glad that you came out of those storms relatively untouched, and very sorry for everyone who wore the brunt of it. Some years back a huge hailstorm came though while we were at work. At least half of the cars in the car park lost both their front and their rear windscreens and had their upholstery slashed by the hail. Cars destroyed (by the dozen) in a storm which lasted less than then minutes.
    On a much happier note: Your snowball tree is a WONDERFUL example of its kind. They are also known as Guelder Rose and Viburnum Opulus. I love ours - and it is not nearly as impressive as the one in your photo.

    1. Thank you on both counts, Ellie Sue! That hailstorm you describe sounds just like what happened here. The videos posted on our local media site are alarming to watch, and I'm so grateful we weren't right in the path of that, but like you am sorry for those who were. But as Robyn says, at least they still have a house, albeit one that needs new siding, roofing, gutters... a lot of folks down in Colorado lost everything in the recent fires.

      So it IS a snowball tree/bush! I'd never heard the name "Guelder Rose" before, thank you for teaching me something new! And it really is an amazing specimen, isn't it? I wonder how old it is, to have gotten so big and so smothered in blooms? I admire it whenever we walk by, and if I didn't have 3 dogs with me I'd go up and sniff it! :-)

  5. Congrats on the anniversary!

    A few evenings ago the official bringers of summer, fireflies (or lightening bugs if you prefer), arrived here in central Oklahoma.

    Storms can be exciting and capricious, indeed they can.

    1. Thank you! :-)

      Oh, I LOVE fireflies (I use the two names for them interchangeably). We had tons of them when I was a kid living in New Jersey (ages 4-8), and they were always one of the absolute signs of summer! (Along with Kool-Aid stands, playing in the sprinkler, and my mother finally letting me wear shorts and sandals!) :-) I miss them - enjoy their sweet twinkling lights for me!

      Yep, exciting, capricious and dangerous too! As you know better than anyone, given where you live!

  6. Hi! Congrats for your happy silver anniversary. It's good for the weather becomes fine.
    I only know the disclosure by Mr.Edword Snowden and a forest fire in the state of Colorado.
    Have a nice vacation. I also go to a 3 day trip from tomorrow.

    1. Thank you very much, Minoru-san! It is good that our weather became fine, though storms are threatening once again. It comes with the time of year here!

      You probably know more current events in the US than a lot of Americans do, and definitely more than most of us know about what's happening in Japan!

      Enjoy your trip, and safe traveling!

  7. Wild weather indeed. I hope that's the last of it. Happy Anniversary:-)

    1. I hope so too, but am pretty sure we both hope in vain. :-) Thank you for your anniversary wishes!

  8. Holy cow. Your weather sounds like it should be setting the stage in a Gothic novel — not in a modern neighborhood. Is it always like this or are you experiencing severe weather change? Last summer we had to replace the Madison roof after one too many crazy hail storms, but luckily, insurance paid for it. Here in the PNW, I've noticed a lack of electrical storms, compared to what we were used to in Wisconsin. A thunder storm may have one small clap and it's done. Buffy was terrified of thunder and her last years spent in Seattle were a real relief to us both. That said, about a month ago we drove through a thunder-lightening-hail storm that was frightening and horrible, but it was unusual. (At least I think it was.) Hope your weather will calm down before you leave on your trip.

    1. Like Wuthering Heights? ("Wuthering" sounds like what our poor plants are doing in all this wretched wind!) I'm not certain what the correct answer to your question is, but I think what we're experiencing is an aberration based on what we experienced on the mountain (where we got storms and high winds frequently, but not as bad as this!), on our experience living in the two other neighborhoods in town before moving here, and on the local news coverage and many conversations. This neighborhood does get very strong winds, but but not THIS STRONG, THIS OFTEN! And hail of that size and in that amount was also unusual. I just hope this isn't the weather we should expect from now on, because houses and plants can't take much more of this. I went for an early walk with the girls this morning (it's supposed to hit 90º today with thunderstorms later but little to no chance of precip, ugh!) and every neighborhood is littered with tree limbs, branches and leaves. BW said it's the same on the south end of town. I wonder if we'll have any leaves left for any fall colors when Jo comes to visit in October if this keeps up!

      I do envision Seattle having a gentler, even if monotonously rainy, clime. It's been just a bit TOO exciting here. And we can't help but wonder what kind of fire season we'll have later this summer. Sure looks bad for CO, CA and AZ so far...

      I hope our weather is very tranquil while we're gone, especially (last time Robyn housesat for us, when we went to Ft. Collins for 3 days in 2011, there was a horrible wind that blew the nectar from the hummingbird feeder all over the back of our house (which was on the market at the time), so I had that sticky mess to clean up! And that same storm spawned a tornado that wrecked two or three barns where Mocha was then boarded! Sheesh. It's hard enough to get away on a vacation without having to worry about the weather back home.

    2. P.S. Meant to add that one of the things that has been so unusual is all the wind we're getting out of the S/SE instead of the usual N/NW! No idea what THAT'S all about, but it's been wreaking havoc on the plants that we planted out back, thinking they'd be protected from the prevailing winds.

  9. Oh my goodness - that's some crazy weather!! How did Willow and Tess do with all the noise? And then the amazing white puffy clouds afterwards... So neat that you follow and share all this!!

    And Happy Silver Anniversary! If I read your post correctly, I think it's today :) Have a wonderful time on your trip at the end of the month*

    1. The dogs all did fine - Willow was in the house (and has gotten hard of hearing), Tess and Josie were in their big garage kennel (they get the entire third stall of the garage with a dog door outside). Tess was a little skittish during the hailstorm, but was easily comforted. Josie couldn't have cared less! :-)

      I'm a woman obsessed with capturing these skies on film, and it makes me very glad to know I have an appreciative audience! :-)

      Thank you! Our anniversary was the 18th (I'm not sure if the time it shows you posted your comment is the time it was there in Oregon, or the time it was here! Hmmm, never really paid attention to that! At any rate, you were either right on time or just 8 minutes late, but your sweet wishes are very much appreciated either way!) :-)

      By the way, here's a bit of trivia most people are unaware of (I only know it thanks to my Texas-raised husband!) Today (June 19th) is known as Juneteenth, the day in 1865 that Texas slaves finally got the word about the end of the Civil War that April and of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier! It's celebrated as the day human slavery finally ended in the United States. (We still have a lot of work to do to end it around the world, and to end non-human slavery everywhere!)

  10. Your weather sounds like Florida where we say if you don't like the weather - Stick around a few minutes: It will change! Congrats on the good, the bad, the ugly and the not so...

    1. We have that saying here too - and we also had it in Maine! I need to stop living in places with more personalities than Sybil, apparently. :-)

  11. Oh gosh - what amazing and dramatic and scary skies! Fabulous shots, but oh boy! That was some storm.

    1. It was a doozy indeed! The whole week was. Glad you enjoyed my captures!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

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