Inclement weather always gives me a little thrill, like a jolt of caffeine zipping up my adrenals. Others who have experienced the worst with me trapped inside waiting for it to pass have said “Look at her, she’s giddy!” with a mild look of skepticism. I am usually thought of as reserved, introverted even, so this surprises people to see this facet of my personality. Am I strange? I don’t know, but this weather obsession is working for me.
The large gust front behind me in the photo was amazing to watch unfold. It began with a day dry and hot as an oven, the sky was clear as a bell. Later in the afternoon a large anvil head drifted silently over the country road by the winery. Peeking over the tops of the trees on the hill, it’s towering dove gray head displayed silent flashes of lightning, like spider veins. A small group gathered with me in my “giddiness” to watch and talk weather terms, I explained that the mammatus we were seeing are the unstable underbellies of the large anvil heads you often see in the distance on a stormy day, and that some meteorologists claim that each bump can possibly give birth to a tornado. As we were looking up again, the storm bloomed into a silent explosion, as though we were watching safely under a layer of thick glass. The dust in the parking lot in front us picked up and began to spin in a columnar fashion. I began to walk backwards into the winery and not wanting to appear alarmist yet not having the confidence to really yell it out, I murmured that, perhaps ” we should get inside”. I had just crossed the threshold when cast iron lawn furniture were being tossed like rags and a haboob of sorts was chasing my panicked friends inside.
We all found shelter in the winery’s cellar and everything was fine in the end, although a 15,000 lb horse trailer was lifted and moved one foot over on it’s blocks and a few shingles were misplaced. We all swore it was a small tornado even though the news had it as straight line winds from a gust front. This gust front was so large in fact that it stretched a line from southern Minnesota all the way to Northwest Wisconsin. Moving eastward it destroyed many trees near the Danbury area.
I am not so giddy as to put myself at risk to go and see these things or chase storms but if the chance arises and I am there anyway I will photograph, Also I find that some of the best shots occur when the storm is yet far away, you can get the progression and the scale of the storm before you have to “batten down the hatches”.