THE CUMULONIMBUS FALLOUT!
Well, the weather wizards had been warning us for the past week … “Bad weather is heading your way on Thursday, Friday and Saturday!” they screamed. And guess what, they were actually right this time. Yesterday, I decided to postpone a Breakfast for Lunch luncheon I had scheduled with a group of people with whom I used to work. It was scheduled for the new ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE that had just opened across the street from where we used to work. I waited until the last-minute yesterday afternoon when the weather forecast said, “Severe thunderstorms arriving about 11 am. and continuing until mid-afternoon.” I cancelled the luncheon, knowing full well that today would dawn bright and sunny.
And I confirmed they had played me for a weather fool again, when I woke up to cobalt blue skies and heavenly sunshine.
Fortunately, they lasted all of 45-minutes before the cumulonimbus clouds started floating in overhead while thunder rumbled in the distance.
Cumulonimbus (from the Latin cumulus (“heap”) and nimbus (“cloud”) is a dense towering vertical cloud associated with thunderstorms and atmospheric instability, forming from water vapour carried by powerful upward air currents. Cumulonimbus may form alone, in clusters, or along cold front squall lines. They may produce lightning and other dangerous severe weather, such as gusts, hail and even tornadoes.
And around eleven, the clouds broke open and dumped a downpour on West Walnut Manor, if not all of the metropolitan area. It rained until mid-afternoon when the sun returned cajoling us into a false security of a wondrous June is busting out all over end to the month of May. Then the cumulonimbus started rolling back in and the local TV stations went from Weather Update to WALL-TO-WALL THE EARTH IS ENDING NON-STOP WEATHER ALERT STATUS. Frankly, there’s nothing on Friday night TV anyway since the season ended a week or so ago. So I nuked a bowl of split pea and ham soup and grilled a ham and swiss hoagie sandwich for my dinner. As I was washing up the dishes the tornado warning sirens began growling. “A tornado has just touched down in Saint Charles, Missouri.” This was quickly followed by, “There are reports that the roof of the Hollywood Casino on the Missouri River has been blown off!” And then, “People living in Earth City, Florissant, St. Ann and West Walnut Manor are advised to seek shelter NOW.”
Well, that included me and Mlle. Renee, so I grabbed my double beam sure hand grip flashlight, cell phone, football helmet and Mlle. Renee, and headed for our subterranean hidy-hole. Just as I got to the back door, the landline rang. I quickly grabbed it to hear my older brother shout, “Why aren’t you and the dog in the basement‽ Don’t you know there’s a tornado head right for you‽” “I would have been there already, if I hadn’t stopped to answer the phone,” I shouted as I hung up and caught up with Renee.
Once in the basement, Mlle. Renee headed for my old darkroom and headed directly for my sturdy enlarger table and equipment shelf I had attached to the foundation wall. Renee really is a smart dog! I headed for my fold-up lawn chair at the front of the darkroom which is directly under the TV in the living room. (I was smart enough to turn up the audio on the TV before I headed into the basement. So I could hear the weather status from down below.) Then all we had to do was wait out the storm.
The wind began to switch … the house to pitch
And suddenly the hinges … started to unhitch
Just then the witch … to satisfy an itch
Went flying on her broomstick … thumbing for a hitch
Just what I needed … an ancient ear-worm to keep me and the dog company! (Yip Harburg really was a great lyricist – anyone want to guess the name of the song?)
Within a short period of time, I heard reports of the tornado doing some damage at Saint Louis International Airport, damaging some cars on I-70, and snapping 3-feet in diameter trees in half in Saint Ann. Like the planes approaching the airport for a landing the storm was following I-70 as a flight path. Then the storm crossed the Mississippi River to wreak havoc in Illinois.
Since the ground around the house (as well as most of the metro area) had become saturated with rain water over the past couple of days, the heavy rainfall that fell during the storm began to seep through cracks that had formed in the foundation during last year’s drought. And Mlle. Renee does not like getting her feet wet inside the house. So with cat’s-paw feet we tiptoed over the tiny rivulets running to the drain and went back upstairs.
Bet your bottom dollar
There’ll be sun!