Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thundersnow and Rainbows

The storms of 2008 brought about a phenomenon that only nature combined with the interpretation of people can behold…..

Last year’s weather pattern showed some bizarre possibilities to the “Global Warming” theory which spurred a series of emails throughout the world. My family keeping pace with the trend, kept the communication going through the web, round robin style. The reports of unseasonable heat in some areas contrasted with the reported challenges of maintaining properties plagued by Ice storms. The reports brought to each of us perspective and became somewhat humbling as we read the accounts and recounted our own observations.

Fast forward to 2008, with predictions of a storm to hit CA second only to the storm of 1995! The news continued to promise the coming of this forbidden storm for many days preceding the event. One was left to wonder if there was little news material for the weather to take so much airtime. Being a “weather junkie” of sorts, sunshine makes me happy but storms excite me! I was ready to see what Mother Nature would show us…

As promised the three series of storms hit the West Coast with a vengeance. By the second round, trees were down and road conditions became messy. The power outages were so widespread that some areas went days without knowing when the power might be restored, a rare occurrence in California.

During this time, those of us that maintained power took advantage. The postings and pictures and recounts of preparations came through the family email, just as before!

Reports came across my computer of my parents shoveling paths and hoping for uninterrupted TV if the “dish”did not fill with snow….
“Rain and snow was all horizontal! Front windows packed with snow in both bedrooms. It is beautiful outside. Dad is still able to watch TV so snow must have slowed.”

My cousin in Pueblo, Co. reported that the road closed on I-70 and he let us know that it would reopen ASAP because the ski resort business loses $800,000.00 an hour when it stays closed.
“Yesterday it warmed up from 5 to 62 degrees in eight hours. About one degree every ten minutes. Last weekend I-70 was closed from about 5 PM Sunday to 3PM Monday due to snow and avalanches. 5 feet of snow is expected to close I-70 tomorrow. It is estimated that the ski towns lose $800,000 per hour when I-70 is closed. Needless to say they try to keep it open as much as possible.”
$800,000.00 an hour!!!!!!! Sheesh!

Sister in Susanville told of weather reports predicting “thundersnow”, a term she had heard for the first time. She commented that it would be a great name for a Ram since she is an Icelandic Sheep Rancher. This spurred a definition of the term “thundersnow” with recounts of past weather observations….

From Pueblo: “When we lived in western Iowa (1950s) we got a lot of thundersnow. The land is flat all the way from western Wyoming until it crosses the Missouri River. The east side of the Missouri basin is a wind blown soil called Loess that is very fine particles drifted like snow up against the glacial hills of the rest of Iowa. This sudden change in elevation (even though only a few hundred feet) resulted in fierce lightning storms that preceded almost every rain or snow episode.”
“A few years ago Matt, Katie, Ann and I were in the house here in Pueblo watching a big snowstorm on the night after Thanksgiving. Some were looking out the front window and some out the back when there was a sudden blast of thunder and the entire sky turned emerald green. We did not have even a flicker in the electricity as all of our lines are underground. One of our neighbors was an engineer/ manager for the power company and he saw it too, and later said that their records showed no blips during that time. He concluded that it was ‘thundersnow’.”

Our sister in NY called us to see if we were ok due to the storm, now that’s a switch!!!!!!

Two sisters mentioned loving driving in snow, an idea that I can’t quite comprehend having always lived in central CA. In my opinion, age 51 is no time to be learning this complicated skill!

I stepped outside during the clearing of the second round of storm to find the most incredible sight, something I felt compelled to continue the family weather accounts with:
“Last evening I stepped outside and noticed the most incredible rainbow! It was a complete semicircle, vivid and double! That was toward the East. I looked toward the West and the rain and clouds had an edge, or an end (if you will) with a gap of blue sky... and then the sun was setting, another semicircle of big orange-yellow, and then a thick line of storm clouds upon the horizon, beyond the "gap"! The total element was so incredible; I was reminded of God's Promise......
It lasted long enough for me to get Dave to look out the front window (facing east) to see the entire rainbow!”

My account triggered another weather memory from my cousin:
“Your rainbow sounds fabulous.”
“Our best rainbow was once when we lived in Hawaii and were eating Saturday breakfast at the Elk's lodge right on the water in Waikiki. It was raining on the windward side of the island, very windy and clear on the Honolulu side. Rain was blowing over Honolulu even though it was clear. There was a rainbow over the ocean roughly west of where we were sitting. The rainbow was visible for an entire hour until the sun got high enough in the sky to cause the rainbow to set in the water just about at the same position where the sun would set.”

And with this I will comment that no matter the distance or how different our lives may be, it’s no wonder the weather is what we can always count on for conversation.

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