Thursday, July 22, 2010

Suddenly I Was in Kansas

Last night I felt like I lived in Kansas for a few hours.  Either I had suddenly been transported there, or Kansas, maybe even just a slice of it, had been transported here.  Or maybe I was in Oklahoma, Nebraska, or North Texas.  Not sure, but I know in southern Maine we had a taste of what it might be like to live in Tornado Alley.

We don't get Tornadoes here often.  The last one I remember was in 1990 or so when one touched down in my ex-partner's property.  It tore up a few trees.  Twisted them like pretzels and then deposited them many feet from where they used to grow.  And then the funnel tore the garage door off his house.  And it was a small tornado.

So I am driving home last night.  In the distance I see darkening clouds.  Some more thunder boomers I thought.  I got home just as the first drops of rain began to fall.  What passed over our house was not a tornado.  But it was funneling.  The rain went horizontal and circled the house for maybe a couple of minutes.  Lightning flashed all around with no comfortable time between flash and boom.  And then it was gone.

This scenario repeated itself several more times until the cells of angry clouds finally moved out to the Atlantic.  In at least two towns nearby, tornadoes did touch down and did what tornadoes do.  Tore stuff up.

I only bring this up because this unusual weather is now becoming usual.  I have given up expecting the climatic rhythms I knew as a teen and young adult.  The winters have changed.  The summers are either hotter than we remember or it rains for two months.  The last five years here has been anything but predictable.

Since settling in Maine, I have become used to severe cold, deep snow that stays put for 5 months, Blizzards that trap me in my house for days at a time, and ice storms that coat everything in 1/2 inch coatings of ice.  That's normal.  In the summer I am used to the occasional thunderstorm and lightning strike.  I once felt the peripheral shock of one that hit a utility pole 50 feet from my house.  I was standing on my garage floor barefoot and holding the door up so a soaked kitty could come in out of the rain.  Both me and the kitty jumped about three feet in the air when it hit.  I will always remember how lucky I was.

But last night, it was damn scary.  Seeing the leaves on the trees all swirling in the same direction and the flashes of lightning all around and so close.  Mother Nature is not happy.  I really am beginning to believe that.

And before anyone thinks this is a post with political aspirations.  It is not.  I don't care how, who, or why it is happening.  But the weather patterns have shifted.  Maybe for the long haul. Maybe not.  To ignore that the climate is different than it was 20 years ago is about as bad a case of denial as I can think of.  Warming or cooling, the weather in Maine has changed.  I will just have to get used to it.

See Ya...................................


Image from "Portland Press Herald" - I assume it is from the damage in Gorham


jadedj said...

This is why we have DEEEEP basements in Nebrasky. Of course in May and June, most of them flood...but what are you going to do...other than move to Maine.

muddleglum said...

Good post. Thanks for the apolitical point, and glad you're still around.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Ah, the hot potato of climate change. Sure, the climate is changing. It changes all the bloody time, and always has. I know the last couple of winters have been pretty tame, but about ten years ago or so we got hit with storm after storm. And I remember a stretch in the mid to late 80's like that, too.

The tornado story is scary but intriguing. A couple of years ago we had a twister touch down not far from here - I remember putting up a blog post about it, sometime in the summer of 2007. And in July of 2005, I was on a plane landing at the airport in Moncton, New Brunswick, which flew between two massive, black thunderheads about five minute before touching down. As soon as we were on the ground and inside the terminal, we heard that there was a tornado watch issued - but none materialized.

About two weeks ago in Quebec, we had a massive rain and lightning storm pass through, and given how hot it was, I told the kids to watch the sky and look for signs of rotation (we were driving). I couldn't believe the number and closeness of the lightning strikes, and quantity of rain. It was unbelievable.

Demeur said...

We've had weird weather here Wa. as well. We had the coldest streak on record. Didn't get to 75 until a week or two ago. They say that's actually part of global warming. The ice in the arctic is melting causing the warm waters from the equator not to come as far north. That's why ships can now circumnavigate the pole. You can expect some very cold and snowy winters because of this.

Randal Graves said...

The patterns are definitely fluctuating more than they did twenty years ago.

I blame Obama.