Friday, April 13, 2012

Lightning Storm

 I got caught in the rain on my way home from the gym yesterday evening. We're having some late season precipitation this year, perhaps to make up for a rare dry winter. It's always a bit inconvenient to get rained on when I'm on the bike. Brakes start squealing, pants are wet, the mud stripe gets painted on your back.

Last night though, there was lightning. And about ten seconds later, thunder. According to those kiddie science books, that means the storm was ten miles away.

It has been a long time since I've seen rain with lightning and thunder. That kind of drama is rare in the Bay Area. Winter and spring rains are pretty much a cold, steady drizzle for days at a time. Except this year, when it was cold and steady for a few hours at a time.

Lightning hitting the Bay Bridge, April 12, 2012. Photo by Phil McGrew.
Growing up in semi-monsoonal Houston, Texas, where every summer afternoon at exactly the same time the sky would crash open, explode in violent flashes of light, and dump sheets of rain for about 30 minutes, I used to think that rain always came with lightning and thunder. Our street flooded on a regular basis. The gutters on our roof would pour water like a pitcher. Then like a temper tantrum tapering off, as if the weather got distracted by something more interesting and shiny, the storm would roll away.

When I was a kid the thunderstorms were terrifying. I thought the thunder would rip the roof off our house, and the lightning would fry our TV and electrocute us while we were watching afternoon cartoons. Somehow, summer after summer, our house withstood the onslaught.

Now that I'm old enough to know that thunder and lightning can't do any of those things, but that lightning can still strike you when you're standing on a treeless plain, or when you're sitting helpless on a plane, thunderstorms are pretty damn cool. As long as I'm indoors, and I have a place to hang my pants to dry.

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