No rain yet… But do I feel a thunderstorm coming?

Nothing since July. I wrote here that in August, we got some rain, but 0.2″ isn’t much at all. It was enough to knock down the dust, but only for a day or two.

This isn’t a record-breaking drought for us, but everyone I run into has pretty much the same complaint: “I’m tired of all this sun and HOT!”

Yesterday, we began to see what could be a break. Instead of hitting 92°, it only got to the low 80s. Something of a relief. We have some possibilities of thunderstorms in the area, and although the local weather-guessers are holding out some optimism, I don’t think so – yet. Doesn’t feel like a pending thunderstorm, as much as we’d like to have a real good slam-banger and its downpour.

Every time we’ve had a good thunderstorm coming, you can always feel it. Those of us who are sensitive to such things can feel a tenseness in the nervous system, an overall restlessness; sort of like you’ve had about three too many espressos. As I look back and do final editing on this post, I’m noticing this beginning to happen.

Is it a storm coming, or is it wishful thinking? Or did I just make my coffee too strong this morning? Looking out to where our storms come from, I don’t see much of anything brewing.

But back to how to tell a storm’s coming:
The physical signs appear later: the air gets this heaviness, the sunlight gets a greenish cast, and if it’s close by (maybe a mile or two away), your skin starts to get this prickly, uncomfortable feeling. That’s if the storm is a ways away. But if it’s real close… you don’t get that feeling, very little warning at all. I’ve been close to a ground stroke (I was out mowing the front meadow, trying to beat the storm), and was completely unaware that it was so close.

Until the BANG hurt so bad it set my ears ringing.

My first thought was ‘what the heck did I hit with the mower deck’, and then I looked up to see my wife on the front walk, trying to get her idiot husband to come in…

When a thunderstorm’s close, you have to be aware of your surroundings. You get complacent because there’s nothing to break your concentration, nothing to ‘tap you on the shoulder’ and tell you to get down. Physics probably has a better explanation for it than my old-time one, but here it is anyway: There’s an electric field that the storm throws out, as it’s gathering enough charge to strike. You’re able to feel that change from farther away, because most of the electric change is happening there – not close in, where lightning’s going to strike. The spot where lightning’s going to strike feels normal because the change is coming TO you, not away from you.

Then the ground sends up a tendril, then once it breaches the field of the main charge, completing the electric circuit, THEN you get the huge ground stroke. That’s why you always hear a ground stroke as a “Whish-WHAMMMM!”

If you’re close to a storm and you see tendrils dancing on the ground, GET DOWN NOW! The circuit can complete through your body and you will be part of a lightning strike.

 

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