Tag Archives: thunderstorms

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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The Calm After The Storm

“Shadows lengthen; the sunlight fades from cloud to cloud, kindling their torn edges as it dies from softness to softness down the prairie sky. A lone farmhouse window briefly blazes; the prairie bathes in mellower, yellower light, and the sinking sun becomes a low and golden glowing on the prairie’s edge.

– W.O. Mitchell, Who Has Seen the Wind*

I arrived home earlier this evening in the midst of a thunderstorm. I’d had a long day of driving home from Winnipeg, and encountered more than one storm along the way. I both love and fear thunderstorms. They are a common occurrence here in the summer. I am awed by their power and beauty, but also frightened by the destruction they can cause. I also have a real fear of getting struck by lightning – which is a more common possibility than people usually think!

But no matter what a storm brings, it is always calm in its aftermath. There is nothing as spectacularly beautiful as the light after an early evening thunderstorm. The sun slants its golden rays, conspiring with the retreating moisture laden clouds to create rainbows. I waited for the storm to pass so I could take my new camera lens to chase some of the best light there is in the world, if you’re into landscape photography.

Sometimes I think I am addicted to this landscape. I can’t stop staring at it. If I could bottle it up and drink it, I would. The thing is, though the topography remains the same, the light is constantly changing. It’s like the sea in that way – always dynamic, never static. No two sunsets are ever the same, nor two sunrises, not even two noons. There’s nothing for it but to keep chasing the light.

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* W.O. Mitchell. 1947. Who Has Seen the Wind. Toronto: Seal Books, 59.