Thursday, April 1, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes

"A thunder-storm on the prairie, as upon the ocean, derives grandeur and sublimety from the wild and boundless waste over which it rages and bellows"
                                                                                    Washington Irving

When you live on the plains, the first day of April heralds the real beginning of the spring severe weather season, although I shot this particular photograph (which actually made it into the New York Times the next day) on March 28 several years back. (For those interested, the pic was taken on US 412 in the Oklahoma panhandle and this tornado -  which was a monster -  killed two people moments after crossing the highway.)

Oklahoma - and indeed all of the plains states -  are a convergence zone for truly mind-blowing atmospheric violence. And in the spring those who live here feel it: the innate, unshakeable sense of impending weather. The feeling that on certain otherwise beautiful spring days the lazy droning of cicadas and the warbling coda of the meadowlarks can't mask a subtle tinge of coming threat.

Those days can also make for some insanely good -  if nervous -  bass fishing. Cast. Cast. Cast. Look over shoulder. Run like hell...

Thus far, this year has been fairly quiet, at least in my little corner of the prairie. But soon enough that will change. Here's hoping it changes out over the empty plains rather than over my house...


  1. You have no idea how dull it is here.

  2. Am I the only idiot who loves springtime storm season on the plains? Seeing a big one come in... the lightning, the wind, the smell of rain... love it. Excuse me while I go get a run in with the dogs before said storm arrives in Kansas!

  3. SBW, dull can be good sometimes...

    Scampwalker, actually I love spring on the plains. March, April, May and the first part of June I wouldn't be anywhere else. After that I'd just as soon be in Montana until September...

    I don't do much real epc storm chasing anymore because I'm not doing much newspaper work these days, plus in the past five years or so it's become an absolute circus, but I'll still hop in the truck and take off every now and then chasing local storms...

  4. Whoops, meant to type "epic" storm chasing there...

  5. Haven't seen a tornado yet and don't want to. For some reason, they really freak me out. Just hearing the tornado sirens being tested each month back when I lived in St. Paul very nearly brought me to tears. I went into a tornado simulation exhibit at a local museum and had to run out of it.

    Aside from tornadoes, though, I'm with Scampwalker. I love a nice thunderstorm. The ones in Richmond, Va., were amazing.