Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Big Thunderstorm

On the day after the June 5th Venus transit, which was the last until 2117, we had the first big thunderstorm of the year.

Before the storm, it rained. Usually we don't have rain followed by sunshine followed by more rain, so when it stopped raining, I thought that was the end of it. It wasn't. When I looked up at the sky, I saw some gigantic clouds. You know the puffy cumulus kind that float by on a sunny afternoon? Well, these clouds were similar to those, only about 20 times larger. These were cumulonimbus clouds - the most dangerous type of cloud. And they were heading my way.

Not long after I went back inside, it started getting dark. Rain began to fall, followed by hail. Lightning flashed again and again as the hail pelted against the windows. I heard that there were 3 tornado warnings. When I looked outside, I couldn't see very far at all, so a tornado could come and I might not even notice until it tore the roof off. I got excited, and started watching very carefully for tornadoes. I've already seen a tornado once, but that wasn't enough; I want to see a few more. Anyway, sometimes the hail would quiet down, so I thought there could be a tornado nearby. Other times it would start rumbling on the roof, so it sounded like a tornado was coming. And meanwhile, I ran from window to window, checking for tornadoes. I never saw any.

Some of the hailstones in that storm were really big - the size of Ping-Pong balls, and larger. Anybody that walked out into the storm wore buckets or metal lids on their heads. If a hailstone hit them on the head, it would hurt a lot - those hailstones fell so hard they even dented our cars, one of which was totaled!

Not only were the hailstones large, but they were numerous. They filled the gutters and rain spout, causing the rain to spill over the sides or leak into the roof. I saw water running out of an air vent in an overhang on the outside of our house. My dad went outside and cleared the rain spout so the rain could drain to the ground more easily, but he didn't realize the hail in the gutters was a problem until much later.

After my dad cleared the rain spout, I noticed that a lot of lightning was flashing directly overhead. It wasn't reaching the ground: the clouds were zapping themselves. This was a good time to take some pictures. I set the camera to take long exposures, and aimed it up at the sky. Unfortunately, the lightning flashed at all the wrong times, and when it didn't, it was almost invisible or was at the edge of the picture. I didn't get anything good until the storm died down.

I later learned that many thousands of people's property was damaged during the storm - not only from the hail, but also from tornadoes. There were at least 20 in Colorado that day. And I never even saw a single one.