Tornadoes, hail, thunder snow, and a blizzard. In five days. Must be spring.
This is the time of year when the weather out here is exceedingly variable, thanks to diving cold fronts. When they combine with low pressure systems that pull water up from the Gulf of Mexico, it can lead to anything from branch-breaking wet snow to hot and cold running tornadoes. Or in this case, “yes.”
The first round, the big, long-lived tornado, came from a low up to our north (Nebraska-Kansas) that caused blizzard conditions and snow storms in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. In the warm sector, the area ahead of the dry line and cold front, the cooler air and low, pushed/pulled the warm air up, causing a very unstable atmosphere. Toss in winds that changed direction with altitude, and you get rotating updrafts that lead to tornadoes, and large hail. Softball-sized hail, which is the size of an average apple for my non-North American readers. The tornado traveled north-north-east at 45-50 miles an hour, and was a quarter mile wide at one point. Smaller tornadoes circled around the main circulation. Thanks to lots and lots of warning, and the Highway Patrol and others getting people off the roads, there were NO injuries or fatalities. A trailer park took a direct hit, but everyone had gone to shelter.
That swept eastward and Sunday was cool, dry, and quiet, although the wind started picking up to March normal in the afternoon. Round two, however, lurked off the coast of California, waiting to come ashore, meet a strong cold front, and attack.
On Tuesday, as I drove back from down state, the wind that was supposed to be very strong and out of the southwest . . . wasn’t. It just wasn’t there. Mom and Dad Red had opened the house windows because it got to 76 F. In the evening, the wind did shift, from the northwest, and the temperature began to fall as the wind speed increased.
This time, the low passed much closer to us. Thunderstorms arrived at 0230 or so, prompting me to get up and unplug the computers. That turned into thunder snow. We got about a quarter inch of just rain before drops shifted to flakes. I heard at least two transformers giving up the ghost. By 0700, an inch of wet snow covered the pave and grass. Even more coated the north sides of cars, houses, and trees, because the wind howled. 35 mph gusting to 56 mph and higher was the rule of the morning, and powerlines started galloping, The lights went out around 0830. At the peak of the storm, I could not see any father than across the street. The houses kitty-corner to mine disappeared in a wall of white. The forecast three inches of snow turned into six inches, thicker in some places. So much water filled the air that the snow didn’t really drift. Power came back about four hours after it failed. The air warmed quickly, rising to forty before starting to settle down again after 1900. The streets started clearing, driveways likewise.
Ah, Spring. When a young man’s fancy turns to
Wishing one could simply throw ibuprofen at sinus headaches.
I enjoy those early days when I can air out the house, but as soon as the wind veers north of west, close everything. Sure enough, something cold and nasty drops in for a couple days.
Last year’s freeze and snow on Mother’s Day was a reminder that a frost-free date is 90% confident, and nature plays all the con games.
Officially, April 5 is the average last freeze. In reality? Don’t set out your tomatoes until the mesquite blooms. The latest recorded snow was May 8, and I have seen snowflakes in the air in late August.
I once saw it snow in June in Montana.
Haven’t seen it ourselves, but I’m told that the 4th of July parade in our city (4200 feet, east of the Cascades) has been snowed upon. We get 1 to 3 hard freezes (snow optional) every June, with occasional snow in September, though October is more likely for dustings of snow.
Joking aside, we tend to split the year in two metaseasons: Winter and Fire.
“Don’t like the weather? Wait a bit and it’ll change. Like the weather? Enjoy it will you can because it will change.” [Crazy Grin]
“A trailer park took a direct hit…” Yep, around here tornados are rare and those that do form are typically weak. That said, several decades ago one formed in this area and promptly attacked a convenience store and an adjacent trailer park, irresistible target for an angry tornado. Damage was done, but no one was seriously hurt.
Back when “Not Necessarily the News” was on HBO, they had a thing called Sniglits: “words that don’t exist, but should.” Two of those were tornadazone “part of the country with the highest number of mobile homes” and mobilhomazone “part of the country with the highest number of tornadoes.”
Ah yes, ‘spring’ in Texas… Glad y’all came through it okay. We only got rain and wind.
Lessee: cold and snow two weeks ago, warm weather a week ago, cold and ice, warm, cold and rain, and currently wind and rain. April is tornado time around here. No point planting most stuff until May.