Monday, July 7, 2008

Storm Watching

There are many forms of thrill seeking. Some flock to the movie theatre to immerse themselves in spectacular CGI, others glue themselves to on-line games. Me, I won't even ride a roller coaster, but call me outside when a storm is coming, and I'll be there. I am awestruck by a power that can lay the works of man low, break dams, blow power lines, turn a pine plantation into match-sticks. Fear and fascination merges into something akin to worship in the face of a thunderstorm. I love the smell of rain(*), moist and wet. I love the sound of thunder, deep and sonorous. I love the flash of lightning, blue and brilliant. I love watching black billowing clouds rolling in dragging sweeping tails of rain in their wake.
I've never seen a tornado in the literal sense, but one dark and stormy night (sorry, couldn't resist that line) I saw the sky glow with brilliant emerald green light and stay that way for minutes. The next day, in the Eldred King Woodlands, I found a long strip of forest had been turned into a twisted mass of broken trees. My guess is that the green glow was caused by continuous lightning glowing through the heart of a tornado (this was July 2006). Green skies, it turns out, of any kind (except at sunset) spells trouble, as it indicates huge quantities of water held suspended in the air by high winds.
On June 15th of this year, my husband and I might have seen a mesocyclone as we both noticed a weird isolated cloud that looked smooth and circular and burnished like a kettle, somewhat like an upside down thunderhead. Since we didn't know it at the time, we didn't take cover and honestly, if we had known what we were looking at, we probably would have 'oooohed' and 'ahhhhed' all the more.

Lest you think we are crazy: if we hear serious official storm warnings (ie. tornadoes imminent), we do take precautions (like locking the pets in the basement and then racing upstairs to watch the show), but on June 15th we missed the warnings and watched in complete naive innocence. It was a beauty, until buckets of rain drove us indoors. Then, from the window, we watched the trees lashing back and forth like grass in a breeze.

And, for the record, I am afraid of thunderstorms, but they're just so gosh darned exciting that I can't help myself when I get a chance to watch them.

(*) Does anyone really know what ozone smells like? In novels I've read "the smell of ozone in the air" a kazillion times to describe an electric storm, but I still haven't a clue. Storms smell like rain to me.

Image: Coloured pencil on 11" x 14" Bristol. Originally conceived on June 15th beneath spectacular skies, at long last finally finished. I did not include the possible mesocyclone because, as described, it looked smooth and round and rather boring compared to the twisty storm clouds.


Jennifer Rose said...

I love thunderstorms! One of the only good things about Alberta being flat is the lightning can be seen for miles and the storms when it does rain are huge. My mother's street got flooded on the 1st, people were using canoes in the street lol Never saw a tornado there (there were a few when I lived there but I was never around the area when they were sighted),but I have seen many times water cyclones on Lake Ontario. It very cool to see :D

"the smell of ozone in the air" I wondered what that would smell like too. I guess it might be pretty hard trying to write what rain smells like, when some people can't smell it or detect the change in the weather before it rains. I can usually tell when its going to rain because the pressure drops, but never smelled ozone before. hmmm well thats better than writing "smells like a 100 wet dogs stuck in a small living room" :p (even though I know what that smells like and its not pleseant :p)

Chrissy said...

I love thunderstorms but anything involving hurricanes (wind type storms) scares me stupid. ISo really mixed, I saw a mini tornado thingy in Mexico once and was awed by the power but it scared me stupid when it blew the door in and threw the deck chairs up over the hotel *shudder*.
Really like the drawing, stormy clouds over a power line - great

kaslkaos said...

Jennifer: I'd love to see the water cyclones, but seem to miss them. Once I was the only person in a restaurant that didn't see them hovering over Lake Superior (grrr!). I heard about the Alberta flood on the news, wow!
& now I'm also thinking about ways to describe the smell of a storm. 100 wet dogs would describe the aftermath when the dogs come in :-)
Chrissy: I would think that being frightened of hurricanes is just plain smart, and the tornado thingie would have freaked me right out. Yikes. I guess I like 'watching', not being in the thick of it.
Thanks Jennifer & Chrissy, it's always fun to chat!

Robert A Vollrath said...

I use to be a storm walker. I would take long walks in bad weather.

You have a wonderful blog and your drawings fit the text.

rosalie said...

i like your way of describing your perception very very much ;)

i think a storm is such a special natural appearance, with such a power that's able to push on your thoughts or even clearify something.

kaslkaos said...

Robert, thanks for visiting (and complimenting) my blog. Yours is fascinating too, and I noticed in your profile, you have an interest in mushrooms, as do I.
Rosalie, thanks for visiting my humble blog. Yes, storms do give us a new perspective--seeing something that has so much power beyond our control.


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