Tumult in the Night

Storm watches and warnings all day. Talk of supercells and tornados and flash floods. Disbelief after months of drought that rain might come in such deluge.

Despite a wind blowing from the east (always a portent of changing weather, since it prevails from the west) and the red bars across the top of the weather forecast, I do not really believe the storm will be as bad as they say it might be. They’re only ever that bad when they come out of the blue.

All these years of living here, being from here and all, and I’m still surprised at the suddenness and the fierceness of a prairie thunderstorm. The frequent flashes of lightning are so common here all summer that I hardly notice them anymore. So when the wind suddenly sweeps down from the north in gale force, bringing with it a torrent, I rush to the window in disbelief.

It’s a nighttime storm, and so in the darkness there is no possibility of squinting at cloud formations for auguries and portents of what may come – is that a greenish tinge, signifying hail? Is that slowly rotating column a funnel trying to form? No, in the blackness I can only listen to the wind, ask it politely to please spare the tender stalks of my vegetables growing in the garden. I can only poke my head out the door and take in gulps of the rainy air, of that peculiar musty smell that only summer prairie rain has – a sharpness which constrasts so totally with the flatness of the droughty, dusty air of only moments ago.

And then, almost as soon as it crashed in, like a rude and drunken houseguest who is not entirely unwelcome, but still, some manners would be nice, the storm blows itself somewhere else, perhaps to rain harder to the east, or throw some hail further south. Or maybe just to weaken and scatter itself impotently across the land, feeble sheets of lightning its only remnant. Wherever and however it’s gone, it has left, and this time, thankfully, with little destruction to show for itself.

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