Friday, May 20, 2011

Rain. Rain. Rain. Rainbow.

My nifty porch-mounted rain gauge registered that a well over 4 inches of rain had fallen this past week. With our area's rain average running about 50 inches a year, (or roughly 1 inch a week), we got hammered this week, indeed. And it wasn't even the rain that was so weary; it was the nearly complete lack of sunlight all week setting misery meters high.

But that finally broke Friday, if just barely.

On a drive to Atkin's Farm for green stuff, we spotted some portentous thunderheads looming in the distance.

Lightning and thunder could be seen/heard when we emerged from the store; so we decided to do the opposite of the common sense thing, and seek higher ground to have a look around. Mt. Pollux was conveniently on the return route, and it had the advantage of a lofty parking area with great views, so we could stay in the relative safety of the auto if the lightning got to intense. We're not completely crazy, after all.

We squeezed into a tight parking spot between a couple hipster types in their beat up station wagon, and a collegy-professory type in his ride. To our right, the sun was just sinking in for the night...

...while to the left, the torrent approached. The sun managed a few breaks through the cover, and turned the dark mass of water approaching into an orangy mist.

The lightning began to crackle and flash more often and closer, and then to our amazement, the collegy-proffessory guy got out of his car, metal framed umbrella in hand, and started on foot up to the bare summit of Mt. Pollux! Dead man walking, we mused to ourselves. Then a few minutes later, just as the first fat raindrops began to strike our windshield, another car came up the hill and parked quickly, and out ran a laughing young couple who also trotted up the trail and towards the top. Dead couple walking, we mused to ourselves. Isn't it lightning 101 not to seek higher ground during a lightning storm? The hipsters stared blankly from their station wagon.

Just before the downpour was finally upon us, the sun found a complete break in the cloud, and set the terrain alight in color and flame.

Then close on it's colorful heels came the rain, or deluge to be more precise, with lightning cracking right above. We had gotten our pictures, so we waved adieu to the hipsters, who stared back blankly, and we were out of there.

On the way home, in the midst of the pounding storm, an ambulance went screaming by heading in the direction we just came from. Kelly and I looked at each other. Nah. I'm sure they knew what they were doing...

Getting home, my nifty porch-mounted rain gauge showed that another 3/8 of an inch had fallen, just from that passing storm. How much more is in store.

1 comment:

-C said...

Having experienced getting caught in a pop-up thunderstorm when hiking at Quabbin reservoir, I can attest to the danger involved that you speak of.

In my case the storm formed over Quabbin itself and I was caught 4 miles from the car. 45 minutes of lightning strikes, wind, and rain with nowhere safe to hide. Trees, forest and hills on one side...wide open hiking trail along a body of water on the other.

Eventually I got hit with splash lightning, just enough to tingle my feet and a few longer-term side effects. I can just imagine what would have happened if I was not prepared with the knowledge of where and how minimize chances of, well, death.

Hiking to the top of the tallest hill around when soaking wet just to catch a glimpse of some thunderheads is one of the least intelligent things someone can do. I'm not saying "dont ever go out when thunderstorms threaten," because in New England you wouldn't go out all summer; Rather don't go out when it's obvious you will get caught.

It certainly stirs a desire to bring to law a "stupid people should pay for their rescue" idea that some states such as NH use.