Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Whither weird weather?

This beats all I've ever seen, weatherwise. Snow rollers! Who knew?

Weird weather I've seen or experienced:

A microburst shot the temperature up from the 70s to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes one summer night around 10 p.m., in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Dust devil at least six stories tall, maybe more, as wide at the base as my house, one late afternoon somewhere between Dickens and Benjamin, in Texas.

Hailstone as big as large canned ham (srsly), which crashed through the trunk lid of a car in Knox City, Texas.

Twelve dead Holsteins, legs akimbo, splayed in a circle, killed when lightning struck the metal doohickey around the large round bale of hay they were eating, Muenster, Texas.

Wall clouds? Check. Rotation? Check. Funnel? Check. Rain curtains, downflows, updrafts, etc., and etc., yes, yes yes.

One time there were three tornadoes on the ground within a mile of some rodeo grounds where I was covering a rodeo. But I've never seen a dang tornado.

Y'alls' weird weather tales, please.

But I've never seen a dang tornado.

Then there was the People Chaser Derecho of ought-ought-1 ...
First off, those snow rollers? Weird. Like hay bales.

Second - never seen a tornado, but had a couple touch down in past year and a half. Thunder snow is always good for a laugh - I love lightning, and combined with a snow storm, it's like gold.

When I was a kid, my family was returning from church in Sayre, PA to our home in Waverly, NY. A snowstorm was quite literally "on the border"; as we passed the NY/PA line, the snow was falling very heavily north of the line - and it was quite clear, like a razor - and south of the line, not a drop, flake, or wind-blown snow-devil. It was truly odd. Who knew borders were real things?
Very cool.

BTW, correction: It wasn't a microburst that cause the temp to go up so fast. Can't remember what they call it. But a thunderstorm stopped dead in its tracks and collapsed.
Adiabatic heating, or Chinook winds. Found along the lee of a mountain range or along the border of a weather frontal zone. Think "dry line".
The opposite effect is adiabatic lifting which cools the air as it goes up creating rain, ice, hail et. al.
OR: Sometimes a thunderstorm is sheared off by winds aloft, such as the jest stream.
First: Texarkana, Texas, late 1970s, when the weatherman said the tornado was approaching, I grabbed my toy football helmet and sat under the kitchen table until it was gone. I was 11.

Second: Fifth grade. Tornado heading for our school. We're called into the hallway, where we take the position. The sound of a train engine is absolutely true.

Third: Junior high, called into the delivery hallway of the mall in Texarkana, Texas, because a tornado is approaching. I sat in the hallway with my mom. I could hear the "train engine" again."

Fourth: Two hours later at the Piggly Wiggly across the interstate, Mom and I were standing in the check-out line and watched as a tornado followed the same path over the mall as it had done before.

Fifth: Spring circa 1995, I had been at my hometown on a weekend and had to work a Sunday afternoon two hours southeast in Dodge City, so I left. A mile or so out of town, the radio station reported a tornado one mile north-northeast of my hometown, which I was leaving. I looked to my left, and, sure enough, there was a tornado. I sped up to 100 and kept going. I got to Dodge City about an hour before the tornado, went straight to work and an hour later went to the office's storm shelter.

2001: After covering a rodeo in Guymon, Okla., I headed back to OKC. I'd heard about the storms brewing in the Texas Panhandle, then I heard the reports on the radio. I looked to my right, where a long line of wall clouds was. I continued, but it looked bad, so I turned back and spent another night in Guymon. Once I got back in my room, I watched on TV as the weather reports showed Woodward getting hit by the tornado that I "saw" at the same time I would've hit Woodward.
When I was 10, lightning killed our milk cow, Bessie.

When I was an electrician in high school down in Burk Burnett's Big Pasture, my boss and I went out to this house that had been hit by a tornado. Some windows were out and the electricity was off but otherwise it looked fine. We hooked up the electricity and threw the breaker box on. Nothing happened.
I climbed up into the normally dark attic to see if the wires coming inside the house were OK and found a zillion tiny beams of light shinning at me.

The tornado had enlarged the whole house by fractions of an inch. Every seam, every joint, every wire connection, every place it was nailed was pulled out a quarter to a half of an inch or so. A seemingly intact house was in fact a complete and total loss.
Teditor, you just stay the hell away from me in the spring. Geez! :-)
Teditor reminded me of a not quite related fact: The record for a person being struck by lightning and living is seven.
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