Old "Storm Stories" Posts

 **under construction - I'm slowly moving all of my posts about weather from my other blog**

[February 25, 2011]  The line of storms came through here around 11:30 last night. I had fallen asleep around 11, tired of waiting on it. Father jokes that, like the Dr. Katz skit, I'm always waiting to "interview the storm as it comes into town". Hmph.

At 11:30 I woke up when the rain tore into the side of the house like a machine gun. Realizing "oh, it's just the front line" I put my head back down and headed back out of consciousness. When the power went out shortly after that I woke up again. We slowly became aware that there sure was a lot of light outside given the power outage and, come to think of it, it was flashing a lot. Opening the blinds and peering out we couldn't see any details but we could tell immediately that the light was not lightning. You'd think it was light from multiple emergency vehicles but the colors (and they changed rapidly) were primarily blue, green and yellow. We also noticed a loud hum.

We got up.

In the hall we met my mother-in-law with a flashlight. She said she remembered this exact light show and hum when a tornado passed through. I thought it had to be electrically related. Either way, it was very unnerving. We stepped outside to try to see better. The flashing light lasted for at least three minutes and then just abruptly stopped. I'd seen fuses and transformers blow but that happens rapidly and sounds like a shot and a bomb respectively. All I could think was that electricity was arcing from one thing to another but I couldn't imagine why it was lasting so long.

Needless to say, it took a little while to go back to sleep.

This morning I searched around and found in the news that a fire had been reported at a local substation, been checked out, and nothing found. Someone must have been close enough to the substation to see the source. Still wanting confirmation that that was indeed what we had seen, I found these videos. Cool.

Update: At the bottom of the post is the actual video of what we saw last night. In the video it says it lasted about a minute but I believe that was the video itself. Another source says it was just under five minutes. Interestingly, I just learned that a tornado warning had been issued for our immediate area right when this was happening. Sirens did not go off in our area. Other residents heard sirens after the storm had passed their houses. The local EMA is scrambling to explain this but their logic is faulty.

This week is Mississippi Severe Weather Awareness Week (great timing, huh?). Here is a segment from their brochure:
The NWS would like to draw attention to nighttime tornadoes. These tornadoes pose a greater danger than those that occur during the daylight because once most people go to bed, they are no longer connected to the watches or warnings issued by the NWS. Also at night, visibility is reduced and observing a tornado is more difficult. This is elevated during the winter months because it is not the traditional tornado season. Research by Gaugin et al. 2010 compared tornado statistics from the Great Plains in the traditional "Tornado Alley" to tornadoes in the Deep South or "Dixie Alley". Researchers found that Dixie Alley had far greater numbers of Killer Strong/Violent Tornadoes between 9pm - 9am time frame. Dixie Alley had nearly twice the number of strong/violent tornadoes from Midnight-Noon time frame than Tornado Alley from 1950-2007.

(You'll have to click on this to see it better - the graphs were inseparable. The bottom left graph is particularly interesting. Purple is day, burgundy is night.)

The video has refused to embed but it's really worth watching so here's the link: http://www.whnt.com/videobeta/fadcbcb2-8d68-4254-ae32-fdc5524699d5/News/Electric-Arc-Caught-on-Video

[February 5, 2011]
When we looked out the window this morning, we saw...


It's so funny...

The blizzard was a few days ago...

...but we got our snow last night.

It's kind of like a "hand-me-down". It doesn't look as great as the first time around, there may not be so much of it (it shrinks), and no one gets as excited about it. But you're still grateful to get it.

"Hand-me-down snow"

With the sun coming up I knew it would disappear quickly, so I woke the children.

Pickles wasn't sure what he was looking at.

He flipped out when he figured it out and ran to tell the girls.

Everyone was excited and at least three were dressed and out the door in five minutes.

We'll see how long it lasts...

[February 3, 2011]
Other people get snow, we get ice.
At least it's something...

[February 1, 2011] "Weather Blunderground" or "The Great Winter Hyperbole of 2011"*

I just checked Weather Underground to see where the squall line was (while the rest of the country gets snow, we get thunderstorms and potentially tornadoes) and something funny caught my eye:

"Get updates on the Great Blizzard of 2011 by listening to..."

The Great Blizzard of 2011? I'm sure there will be a blizzard - there doesn't seem to be much doubt about that - but to already be calling it "The Great Blizzard of 2011"? That seems a little ridiculous. I mean, say it's going to be very severe weather and post appropriate warnings and all, but let's leave the naming for the history books for after the storm. What if we have another blizzard in a month that blows this one away? Wouldn't you feel silly calling it "The Other Great Blizzard of 2011"? It's like calling the first battle of Bull Run, the "First Battle of Bull Run" before the "Second Battle of Bull Run" happened. It's sensationalist media run amok.

(*The first title was mine, the second was Father's suggestion. His is better, drat it.)

[December 26, 2010] On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me...snow!

After what I said about the children being disappointed at the lack of snow yesterday, it was rather a shock to go outside to head to church this morning and see snow flurries. The flakes were tiny and of course nothing was sticking, but there it was all the same. Those were some excited children! After church it was still floating down and the temperature had dropped. When we got home I checked and the wind-chill was in the low 20s. Apparently Indiana had run out when we left for church and he was squealing to be let in when we drove up. Genevieve was rather smugly curled up next to a heating vent. We've had a quiet afternoon (I read in bed next to Pickles so he would go to sleep) and are looking forward to lots of leftovers. It's odd how little it felt like Sunday today. When we left church I was really thinking we had just attended a week-day festal Liturgy. Christmas yesterday really usurped the place of honor in the week.

I hope everyone on the Gregorian calendar is having a nice Christmas!

[December 11, 2010] 
I have to say, it's not too often you are simultaneously under
  1. a Tornado Watch,
  2. a Hard Freeze Watch,
  3. and a Wind Advisory.
The lightning out the window is cool though.

 I hope dinner finishes cooking before the power goes out...

Oops. Sirens going off.

[Update: no tornado - I think around here they set the alarms off for severe thunderstorm warnings too. Not a wise practice. (People will start ignoring sirens.) We did get a tremendous amount of lightning, rain and wind. It is now COLD outside. And, supper did finish cooking because the power stayed on. (c; ]

[November 30, 2010] A cold front came through last night, violently at times. I woke up in the wee sma's to hear wind lashing the rain against the windows. Sometime after that I became aware that the power was out. It was still out when we got up and Father was missing his coffee. We checked the yard but only lost one big limb and it didn't hit anything. It was so mild yesterday that we didn't have any heat on at all and none last night. Thus, after the power came back on the heat didn't automatically kick in. It had gotten right chilly outside and as we were starting school this morning I realized that the children were all wrapped in blankets and I was a little cold myself. I checked the thermostat and realized that it was turned to "off". Let's just say it was cold. With the heat back on the house has gotten a lot more comfortable.

I checked the weather forecast to see if it would clear up today. It looks like we might see the sun just before it sets and tonight will be cold, about 28. I explained heat loss and conservation by cloud cover to the two children next to me. As more children gathered around I showed them the radar so they could see where poor Alabama was getting slammed with the storms that had gone through last night. Then I showed them the temperature map and explained the concept of a front. They were fascinated. Thus it was that when I looked at the 10 day forecast and saw that we "might" have scattered flurries next Wednesday, there was complete pandemonium. As they jumped up and down I tried to remind them that there was a very low chance that it would happen, but you could see snowmen lined up like the Rockettes in a chorus line, dancing in their heads. The closest thing we've got to snow right now is a drift of white camellia petals shaken loose by the wind. Oh well. Maybe we'll see a flake or two. (c;

[October 26, 2010] Storm #2 Pictures:  These pictures are kind of a time-lapse view of the storm's passing. The wall cloud wasn't as pretty as some I've seen, but still... This storm dropped a funnel about ten minutes after these pictures were taken. The kids and Grandma and the dog were in the bathroom while I was outside on the street taking pictures. I figured I was fine until the wind changed directions from outflow to inflow. It never did.

[October 26, 2010]   Storm #1 Pictures

As the first storm passed we had a very bright rainbow.

You could see the whole span. A secondary rainbow was
visible but it didn't show up well on the picture.

The back side of the storm.

I think this was the anvil of the next storm, heading over.

Isn't this great? I need my brother William to identify this for me.
I'm thinking cumulus pileus. 

Closeup shot.

Another shot of the entire back side.

Didn't it create some fantastic clouds?

[October 26, 2010] I have the coolest pictures of a wall cloud that passed just behind the house over the lake. I'm really hoping to get the pictures up tonight. As it was passing us it started some definite rotation and looked like a good updraft was forming. I heard on the TV a little later that five or ten minutes after that particular storm passed it had a confirmed funnel spotted. Drat! Missed the funnel!

Sounds like there's been some significant damage out there so I hope everyone is staying safe.

[October 26, 2010] Right now the winds are gusting to 29 mph. The TV is on the local station for weather. 
For once, I don't need the velocity map to see the rotation, you can see an eye. Look at the storm below Athens. See the little blob of green below the red? That's the center of rotation. Cool! Such a shame it's all going north of us. 

NOTE: I got some awesome pictures as it passed (to the south of us unfortunately) and I may be able to post them later today. Yes!

NOTE #2: Please, everyone be careful today since there seems to be unsettled weather over a pretty large area of the east and south.

[August 27, 2010] Ahh...the Atlantic hurricane season is revving up!  I can feel the first prickles of excitement as I look at the Atlantic satellite in motion.  Danielle has such a nicely formed eye and TS Earl is chugging right behind.  There are two more disturbances in line behind them (although not organized) and the Atlantic basin is becoming a lot more interesting to look at. 

Any other hurricane (or weather in general) enthusiasts out there? [My family excluded - I know you're all weather nuts...]

[August 14, 2010] Tonight at Vespers, the lights, when turned up at Gladsome Light, actually made a difference in the overall lighting of the church.  With the sun still high in the sky at six o'clock in the summer I always feel slightly silly at this point.  But tonight the sky was still heavily overcast from the torrential rains of the afternoon and the church was somewhat darkened. 

After Vespers the sun had begun to peek through the clouds right on the horizon.  With it still drizzling slightly I started looking for a rainbow.  Because the sun was so low in the sky, the rainbow was so high that I almost missed it.  When we got home I grabbed the camera and headed out to try to take a picture. 

It was one of the most expansive rainbows I'd ever seen and I couldn't get all of it in the frame at once.

A minute or so after I'd started photographing it, a secondary rainbow appeared, much to the delight of all of the children in the neighborhood who were jumping up and down on their respective lawns.

When Ginger came out to see the rainbows, he said, "look at that great sunset!" 
I turned around and looked.
Mammatus clouds!
(Hopefully my brother William will not email me to correct my nomenclature.)

I kept going back out to watch the sunset. 
The colors were glorious, not able to be captured on the camera.

O Gladsome Light indeed!

[July 17, 2010]
It's been so hot.  The sun, merciless.

This afternoon it started to get cloudy.  Father noticed the sycamore branches tossing in the breeze.

We were talking and saw a flash.

"Was that lightning?"

I went out on the porch, drawn by the wind.

The clouds are dark and light, confused and tumbling.  The oak branches sway.

Thunder shakes the floor of the porch, painted boards warm under my bare feet.

My hair lifts in the wind.  It ruffles my skirt.

I notice it coming down the street. 

"Look, rain" I say to my youngest, wriggling in my arms.

It is preceded by the pungent smell of rain on concrete.

Slowly the storm settles in, calmly rinsing the lawn and my poor flowers.

The air is cooler now.

I need to get ready for vespers, but I stay another minute watching the rain.

God is merciful.

[June 26, 2010] Well, here we go.  The first named storm of the Atlantic season.  People ("experts") seem to be in agreement that it might, or might not, do some, or a lot, of damage via moving the oil around.  Now that's something firm you can stand on.

The thing that people miss is that once you have a storm in the Gulf, much of the surface is set in motion and there are unforeseen consequences.  Like oil where you didn't think oil would go.  If there's a big enough storm, it can turn most of the Gulf into a jacuzzi.  Ever wondered why the bubbles you put in one end of the tub don't stay there?

I think that the best-case scenario here would be one of no tropical disturbances in the Gulf this summer.  Show of hands: who thinks that will happen?  Everybody better plan on a direct hit and what they're going to do in that event.  Otherwise you're just hiding your head in the oil-stained sand.

On an extremely frivolous side note: being the storm-lover that I am, I am reveling in the fact that I'm significantly closer to the coast than I have lived in the last almost twenty years.  If it weren't for the oil, I'd be thrilled that we're heading into hurricane season!  (I'm incorrigible - don't even try berating me for this.  Grandpapa was a meteorologist and we all got the bug.)

[June 24, 2010]
"As well," he continued, "don't you like a rather foggy day in a wood in autumn? You'll find we shall be perfectly warm sitting in the car."

Jane said she'd never heard of anyone liking fogs before but she didn't mind trying.  All three got in.

"That's why Camilla and I got married," said Denniston as they drove off. "We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. It's a useful taste if one lives in England."

"How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston?" said Jane. "I don't think I should ever learn to like rain and snow."

"It's the other way round," said Denniston. "Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up. Haven't you ever noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the children--and the dogs? They know what snow's made for."

"I'm sure I hated wet days as a child," said Jane.

"That's because the grown-ups kept you in," said Camilla. "Any child loves rain if it's allowed to go out and paddle about in it."
-C.S.Lewis, "That Hideous Strength"

[May 14, 2010] Earlier today I was trying to pick up the house and went into the boys' room.  It was so awful I just leaned my head on the bunk bed.  Father came in and asked what was wrong.  I told him the room looked like a tornado hit it.

Father: "But you love meteorology!  That's your 'thing'."

Me:  "I can only observe and classify - not perform disaster clean-up."

Father: "Something like: this room was hit by an F4 tornado?"

[September 17, 2009] Tip #1: Buy a weather radio. Plug it in. Leave it there year-round. Seriously, you won't know which thunderstorms are harboring tornadoes just by looking around. There are too many hills and trees to see anything coming. By the time you actually lay eyes on it, it may be the last thing you see. And granted, most tornadoes come in the spring around here (mostly in April), but there have been tornadoes in every month of the year. In the fall you can get them as spin-offs of hurricanes. Your area probably has tornado sirens. Take them seriously. Don't necessarily do as I do and run out and look up at the sky the instant it goes off. Or soon you'll have your children doing the same thing (like mine). My younger ones will ask excitedly, "Is that the tomato siren? Is a tomato coming??"

 [Time out for funny anecdote: When we moved to Pennsylvania to go to seminary, we got there just after Dormition (mid-August). The 2nd or 3rd night we were there we woke up out of a dead sleep to unmistakable tornado sirens going off. We bounced up and I tossed open the window and stuck my head out. It was about 50 degrees and clear: you could see stars. Father manually turned on the weather radio (Yes, we were there about 24 hours before it was unpacked and plugged in.) which had failed to go off automatically. We listened with bated breath while the computer-generated voice droned on about current (calm) weather conditions in counties we had never heard of. Still not willing to relax and go back to bed, we turned on the television and scouted around for local stations, searching for the inevitable meteorologist standing in front of a doppler radar screen plastered with red and yellow. Nothing. We discussed the unlikely possibility that the locals checked their alarm weekly in the middle of the night. Forced to give up, we headed to bed, still half listening for the light breeze to turn into a screaming maelstrom. The next morning we checked with one of the neighbors who explained that there being no local full-time fire station, the volunteers were called out - you guessed it -with a siren.]

Tip #2: Have a place in mind to take cover. Here's a good order of preference: Basement (in center or NE corner under something heavy-duty), windowless bathroom on 1st floor, windowless closet or other room on 1st floor, under a heavy piece of furniture and try to grab a blanket or something on the way there to cover up with if you have none of the above. Closets under stairs are good for this purpose. Our Californian friends panicked when they asked us about tornadoes and we nonchalantly started going through the above advice. When they said they didn't have a basement I asked about an under-the-stairs closet. They looked wildly at each other for a moment and then shouted that yes! they did have one. The wife said, "So THAT'S what that closet's for!" I managed to keep a straight face when I said that it was perfectly ok to use it for storage too.

[April 20, 2009] Yesterday near the end of Agape Vespers, the skies opened up and it poured. I got drenched getting stuff and kids into the car and shivered during the 45 minutes back to my mother-in-law's house. Part of the fun: I discovered that while I had been loading everyone up, Pickles had climbed in the driver's seat and rolled down the window. Ha ha, Mommy.

Father had a sixth grade Sunday school class from a local Methodist church coming to hear about Orthodoxy last night at 6. Apparently, this was the best time for them. I was to get everyone packed, fed and loaded and meet him at the church at 7 to begin the 2 hour ride back home. Fortunately it stopped raining while I loaded the van. Normally I would have checked the weather radar but I was pretty tired (and sleep deprived), short on time, and just wanted to get home. Besides, the rain had stopped and the weather earlier had been only a rain event so I was Unsuspecting.

I started 15 minutes late and called him on the road to let him know we were coming. He said that a crazy person had stopped by the church as the class was leaving and told him that he was a top government assassin and had a microchip implanted in his forehead. After a bit of prayer and money the man was persuaded to go away and Father locked himself in the church. Just a few minutes before we got there, I looked off to the south and saw a nice grouping of mammatus clouds amidst the lightening. I was excited (it's been a while) despite the sure knowledge that we were going to be heading in that direction within 10 minutes. We got to the church, Father hopped in his car and we headed off. Over the phone we discussed that he needed to stop for gas. I wanted to stop at our usual place, just on the other side of the Tennessee River, but he said he was pretty low and so we stopped very close to the church. I got out of the van when we stopped and as I did, I could hear the tornado sirens starting up. I looked around. It was pouring and pitch black. The guy in the convenience store had no knowledge of storm location so we called Father's mother. She checked and said that there was a tornado on the ground at Lacey Springs. Lacey Springs is just on the other side of the river... and has a really nice, inexpensive gas station.

We got back in the cars and drove North for about 5 minutes and pulled into a parking lot, listening to the local radio while waiting for it all to pass. There was quite a lot of tornadic activity in the area, all the way South. We drove slowly South, listening to the radio all the way and managed to drive just behind the main storms. It took us 2 1/2 hours and I had a splitting headache when we got home, but I'm VERY glad to be here despite the four hundred loads of laundry to do today.

The children slept through the whole thing. Fifteen minutes before we got home, Ribby woke up and asked:

"How come it's taking us so long to get Papa from church?"

[April 3, 2009] I have not forgotten that today is the 35th anniversary of the tornado super outbreak of 1974. My husband, who was three months old at the time, was living only about 30 miles from one of the F5 tornadoes. In memory of the 335 people killed in 13 states by 148 tornadoes, here is an audio recording made "accidently" in Xenia, Ohio that day.

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