It was threatening to storm. And it did storm to the north, south, and west of us here at the beach. But the closer it got to the ocean, the more the intensity decreased, and now it’s just a gentle rain, the occasional flash of lightning, and grumble of thunder. This is summertime at the beach.
A typical day this time of the year begins with a few clouds, calm winds, and a temperature in the mid 70’s. This is why I so enjoy bicycling early in the morning this time of year. It’s cool, the wind is non-existent or light from the south or west, and the traffic is much lighter as well. As the day wears on, cumulus clouds begin to tower, and my mid afternoon the alarms are going off at the station. “The National Weather Service in Jacksonville has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for…” and Stephen Hawking goes on to list the counties and town in the path of the storm. Pretty much like clockwork every afternoon.
Sometimes they’re fast moving storms that cause a lot of damage. Most of them start that way. But often, if the wind is out of the west pushing the weather towards the ocean, we get a nice, gentle rain. Just enough to chase the tourists off the beach. Sometimes they wind up in the restaurants on 1st street, sometimes they just scramble back to their hotels and condos.
I recall when I used to come down here in the summertime to visit from Indiana. It gets plenty hot in Indiana in the summertime, but the rain was still cold. It would tower 40 or 50 thousand feet into the clouds and fall cold even on the hottest days. Down here, getting caught out in a storm was not much more than an inconvenience … unless you’re wearing nice clothes. Sometimes, standing out in the rain, particularly in central and south Florida, can be like standing in a warm shower. But you do have to be cautious of the lightning.
It’s odd that it can rain, and rain, and rain here and in only days be so dry that the weather service is issuing fire danger alerts. Part of that is because what passes for soil is so sandy that the water can’t stay on the surface. What isn’t absorbed quickly by the plants pretty much starts its trip to the aquifer in short order.
By the time August rolls around, these afternoon thunderstorms will pretty much be a thing of the past. We actually get pretty severe droughts here, sometimes depending on a nice, juicy tropical system to keep things green and growing. August and September are the worst months for that. And of course, with the beneficial rains come things like tropical storm and hurricane force winds, tornadoes spawned from the very unstable atmosphere, and sometimes way more rain than you can deal with.
It was fascinating sitting here during the tropical storms in 2004 watching the sky light up blue as rain driven into the transformers on poles shorted them out. I’ll bet we watched 20 of them cook off from here … a much more blue light then the lightning that was nearly constant. I could see the rain coming down just in sheets in the streetlights … until they went dark. But to the credit of Beaches Energy, we were without power for only about 8 hours during Charlie and a couple of hours during one other storm. After Charlie, there were areas of town that were powerless for more than a week.
Everyplace has it’s severe weather. Recent floods in the Midwest are a testament to that, as are more fires in California. There are tornadoes in so many parts of the country, and they’ve been bad this year. The north, northeast, and upper Midwest have blizzards and severe cold. I’m sometimes not sue why some legislators and insurance companies are so resistant to a nationwide insurance pool for natural disasters. Seems like no place is immune.
Meanwhile, the rain has stopped for the time being. Tomorrow is Friday, which means it’s show day and I have to plan to be at work at 7:30. Saturday morning, I’m looking forward to sleeping in before going for my ride. I’m I’m lucky, we’ll be able to take out a bank loan, buy some gas for the boat, and spend some time on the water.
I’ll cross my fingers.