Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Raging Storms

 

When the rain falls gently, soothing the leaves on trees, darkening the streets slowly, satisfying the thirst of eager flowers, I welcome those soft showers. But my experience with the “raining cats and dogs” variety of storms has been terrifying, and I could definitely do without them. Unfortunately, nature will have her way.

Three terrifying experiences that have never been duplicated came to mind when I thought of raining cats and dogs. The first was on a cross-country drive, and we were on a Texas highway. My husband drove one car and I drove the other, as we were in the process of moving from CA to MA. We amused ourselves by taking turns being in front, and to make sure I didn’t get sleepy, he would occasionally call me on my cellphone. (This was in 2006* when you couldn’t get arrested for using a cellphone while driving.)

The highway had little traffic, and we knew we might come into an occasional rainstorm. But I couldn’t have mentally prepared myself for the onslaught we were about to hit. Ahead of me, suddenly, I could only describe the rain as a wall. I cringed, realizing I had no way to avoid it. Then I breathed in, thinking, how bad could it be?

Very bad.

The roar of the rain filled the car. I slowed down as quickly as I could without slamming on the brakes. I couldn’t see anything in front of me, and I opened my eyes as big as saucers, hoping I could magically penetrate the barrier that now surrounded me. It only lasted a few moments, as these storms almost always do, but it was a moment of terror and I held on to the steering wheel and prayed I didn’t hydroplane.

And then it was over, almost as quickly as it had started. Although I’ve lived in different parts of the country, I’ve never seen a deluge quite like it, and hope I never will.

The second experience was in Parker, CO; we lived in a quiet suburb with a large drainage ditch not far away. It would occasionally have water in it, but most of the time we barely noticed it and didn’t give it much thought.

Until we got the downpour of the century south of us in the Black Forest area. It was raining in our area, too, but just your normal kind of rain. Suddenly a movement caught my eye. It was the drainage ditch southwest of our house. Where puddles had rested earlier, water was growing up the sides of the ditch. I watched, mesmerized, thinking the rains would surely stop soon. But they didn’t. And the water continued to rise in the ditch located just 100 feet from our home. It transformed from a swift stream to a raging river. We watched the mist climb off the top, the water cascading powerfully and tried not to panic. We were certain that the water would top the sides of the ditch and take our home away. I tore my eyes away from the scene and looked south; the sky was lightening. The rain must have been slowing down. And then I noticed that the roaring river was not climbing higher, but had leveled off. After several moments I reassured myself that the water level was subsiding.

I started to breathe again as the sun came out.

My last encounter with potentially heavy rains was Hurricane Irma. I’d never been in a hurricane before. And it appeared, as we went to bed, that she was heading right for us. The wind blew, the rain shattered the stillness, and we barely slept that night. We have a lanai, and every hour or so one of us would check to see if it was flooded; we have a side door to the yard that we planned to open if the water rose too high, because it could have flooded the inside of the house. (If we’d left the side door open, the winds would likely have ripped it off.)

We had such a bizarre experience checking the water level. The way our house was oriented, the direction of the winds actually appeared to blow the water out of the lanai. Every time we went out there, the concrete was barely damp. The furious wind seemed determined to take everything and all of us with it. But it didn’t.

We only felt the edge of Irma. But others in Florida had to suffer devastation.

For us, it’s hard to say whether the actual weather or the anticipation of it was worse.

This time, it was the anticipation. Next time, who knows.

*Edited date thanks to my observant commenters!

 

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There are 13 comments.

  1. PHenry Member

    Susan Quinn: he would occasionally call me on my cellphone. (This was in 1977 when you couldn’t get arrested for using a cellphone while driving.)

    You had a car phone in 1977? ;)

    I have been in some storms that overwhelmed the windshield wipers. Pulling over was my only choice, but I was scared that someone else was going to come blindly down the road and smash in to me.

    Then I discovered Rain X. (This is not a paid advertisement!) Rain X, the original, is a must. It makes vision so good you literally do not need the wipers, even in a massive storm. The water just runs off in sheets and the window is clear as can be. I now see others driving very slowly and crossing the lines in a storm and I have to remind myself they can’t see, because I see perfectly! I now try to apply it once a month to my wife’s, my mother’s and my own car. I am convinced it will save one of our lives.

    I have tried other Rain X products and none works like the original, the liquid. You apply it to a clean window with a paper towel, then buff like a wax. It stays good for 3-4 weeks. It is great on the side view mirrors too.

    Rain- X Original Treatment 3.5 oz - 800002242W

    • #1
    • August 13, 2019, at 7:48 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  2. EB Thatcher
    EB

    In September of 2005, we moved to south Florida, just in time for Hurricane Wilma – the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin.

    Fortunately, we were staying in a fairly new condo while we looked for a house. It was built to the then-latest hurricane standards and was also equipped with corrugated metal hurricane shutters that could be installed (at great risk to bare hands.) Unlike a lot of experienced Florida residents, we actually prepared for Wilma. We put up the shutters, bought a small generator, filled every container with water and put them in the freezer, filled the bath tubs, filled the fridge with bottled water, filled up the car with gas, and bought every can of tuna fish and spam at Publix.

    That morning, we lay in bed clutching each other as Wilma went over our head. It was frightening to hear the roar and “feel” the shutters shaking. But the building wasn’t shaking, we were tucked up in bed, and we had each other. Earlier that summer when Katrina hit New Orleans, I had watched a man on the news tell how he and his wife had stayed in their (rather rickety ) house. They were holding hands and in an instant, she was swept away. I told my husband at that time if a hurricane were coming, we would either have a safe place or we would leave. You can replace things – you can’t replace each other. (As that well-known philosopher, Joan Collins, once said, “Don’t love anything that can’t love you back.”)

     When the eye came, we ran downstairs and looked out the front door (all the windows being covered with the shutters) – it was eerily calm with blue sky and sunlight. It was hard to believe that it wasn’t over. Of course, the second side did hit. It was still nervous-making, but we didn’t have the same level of fear as we had earlier.

    Power was out in our area for almost a week. We could have stayed – having food and water. BUT…..we only had 2 days worth of fuel for the generator. We realized that we couldn’t get more because the power outage meant that gas stations couldn’t pump gas (none of them had generators.) So we bugged out for Orlando.

    And once again, our preparations saved us. We had kept our car tank topped up and so had plenty to get from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando. All the way up the Turnpike, the lines to get into every service area for gas were literally backed up for over a mile.

    • #2
    • August 13, 2019, at 9:05 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    EB (View Comment):

    In September of 2005, we moved to south Florida, just in time for Hurricane Wilma – the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin.

    Fortunately, we were staying in a fairly new condo while we looked for a house. It was built to the then-latest hurricane standards and was also equipped with corrugated metal hurricane shutters that could be installed (at great risk to bare hands.) Unlike a lot of experienced Florida residents, we actually prepared for Wilma. We put up the shutters, bought a small generator, filled every container with water and put them in the freezer, filled the bath tubs, filled the fridge with bottled water, filled up the car with gas, and bought every can of tuna fish and spam at Publix.

    That morning, we lay in bed clutching each other as Wilma went over our head. It was frightening to hear the roar and “feel” the shutters shaking. But the building wasn’t shaking, we were tucked up in bed, and we had each other. Earlier that summer when Katrina hit New Orleans, I had watched a man on the news tell how he and his wife had stayed in their (rather rickety ) house. They were holding hands and in an instant, she was swept away. I told my husband at that time if a hurricane were coming, we would either have a safe place or we would leave. You can replace things – you can’t replace each other. (As that well-known philosopher, Joan Collins, once said, “Don’t love anything that can’t love you back.”)

    When the eye came, we ran downstairs and looked out the front door (all the windows being covered with the shutters) – it was eerily calm with blue sky and sunlight. It was hard to believe that it wasn’t over. Of course, the second side did hit. It was still nervous-making, but we didn’t have the same level of fear as we had earlier.

    Power was out in our area for almost a week. We could have stayed – having food and water. BUT…..we only had 2 days worth of fuel for the generator. We realized that we couldn’t get more because the power outage meant that gas stations couldn’t pump gas (none of them had generators.) So we bugged out for Orlando.

    And once again, our preparations saved us. We had kept our car tank topped up and so had plenty to get from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando. All the way up the Turnpike, the lines to get into every service area for gas were literally backed up for over a mile.

    Well done, EB! And very scary !

    • #3
    • August 13, 2019, at 9:20 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Did you mean a CB radio, Susan? Few people outside of law enforcement and really uppity Hollywood movie stars had cell phones before the 1990’s.

    In the 1970’s, a working cell phone would have set you back over $ 7,500. And even by 1984, it cost about 4K to own one.

    Your relating the tale of Colorado downpours reminds me of hiking outside Boulder CO.

    Once you get into some of the canyon roads leading to Gold Hill, there are signs posted on either side of the road that read, “In case of flash floods, seek higher ground.”

    Which always puzzled me, as when you are surrounded on both sides by sheer cliffs that reach at least 700 feet skyward, how exactly does one get to higher ground?

    • #4
    • August 14, 2019, at 12:57 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    Did you mean a CB radio, Susan? Few people outside of law enforcement and really uppity Hollywood movie stars had cell phones before the 1990’s.

    In the 1970’s, a decent cell phone would have set you back over $ 7,500. And even by 1984, it cost about 4K to own one.

    Your relating the tale of Colorado downpours reminds me of hiking outside Boulder CO.

    Once you get into some of the canyon roads leading to Gold Hill, there are signs posted on either side of the road that read, “In case of flash floods, seek higher ground.”

    Which always puzzled me, as when you are surrounded on both sides by sheer cliffs that reach at least 700 feet skyward, how exactly does one get to higher ground?

    Somebody else asked me this, and it just dawned on me that this was a later cross-country move–CA (again) to Florida, in 2006.

    Good thing I’m not running for President!!!

    I do remember being in places where they warned of flash floods in CO. You bring up a valid point, @caroljoy.

    And my apologies to @phenry, who I thought was just “funnin'” me about my cell phone!

    • #5
    • August 14, 2019, at 1:03 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    A dark and stormy tale!

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the August 2019 Group Writing Theme: Raining Cats and Dogs. Share your favorite story of rain, reign, and maybe cats and dogs, however loosely construed. There are plenty of dates still available. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #6
    • August 18, 2019, at 12:54 AM PST
    • Like
  7. Annefy Member

    Son #2 was born on 1/11/1993. On that day it began to rain in SoCal, breaking a multi-year drought. It rained for 40 days.

    It didn’t rain all day every day for 40 days, but there was rain every single day for 40 days.

    How do I remember it so well? I was home, in my house, with two toddlers, a newborn and my mother.

    I’ll never forget it.

    • #7
    • August 18, 2019, at 12:55 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Annefy (View Comment):
    I was home, in my house, with two toddlers, a newborn and my mother.

    You have my sympathies. But you might get a book out of it.

    • #8
    • August 18, 2019, at 5:26 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Absolute worst rain driving situation was on Interstate 20 in West Texas, in a blinding rain-and-hail storm with no overpasses to hide under and on a road that had just been resurfaced by TxDOT, so it had no markings other than the little rubber strips put in to show the road crews where to paint the lane lines. When it let up a little I ended up staying close behind a fire truck going to an accident up ahead, since I could at least see and follow its flashing lights and assumed the driver had a better idea of where the road was, even without the paint markings.

    • #9
    • August 18, 2019, at 6:24 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Absolute worst rain driving situation was on Interstate 20 in West Texas, in a blinding rain-and-hail storm with no overpasses to hide under and on a road that had just been resurfaced by TxDOT, so it had no markings other than the little rubber strips put in to show the road crews where to paint the lane lines. When it let up a little I ended up staying close behind a fire truck going to an accident up ahead, since I could at least see and follow its flashing lights and assumed the driver had a better idea of where the road was, even without the paint markings.

    What is it about Texas, @jon1979?? Although yours sounds even worse than mine!

    • #10
    • August 18, 2019, at 6:46 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    What is it about Texas

    When I lived in Texas they used to say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes.”

    At one point I worked in downtown Houston. One day after work we were walking a couple of blocks from the office to have a drink. At the crosswalk, we looked down the street and we saw the rain just moving up the street. We ran across the intersection and barely made it into the bar before the rains came down.

    • #11
    • August 18, 2019, at 1:38 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Cow Girl Thatcher

    I drove through a weird cloudburst like that here in Nevada one day. It was terrifying! I could barely see the front end of my own truck, let alone see if anyone else was there on the highway. It only last a few moments, hurray, but I was so frightened by it, I had to pull off the interstate to regain my composure so I could continue on my trip.

    • #12
    • August 18, 2019, at 3:43 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Absolute worst rain driving situation was on Interstate 20 in West Texas, in a blinding rain-and-hail storm with no overpasses to hide under and on a road that had just been resurfaced by TxDOT, so it had no markings other than the little rubber strips put in to show the road crews where to paint the lane lines. When it let up a little I ended up staying close behind a fire truck going to an accident up ahead, since I could at least see and follow its flashing lights and assumed the driver had a better idea of where the road was, even without the paint markings.

    What is it about Texas, @jon1979?? Although yours sounds even worse than mine!

    Tornadoes and really severe thunderstorms love flat land, and Tornado Alley of the Great Plains starts in southwestern Texas. Lots of flat land that makes it, if not easy, not all that uncommon in bad years to get T-storms with 60,000-foot-plus tops. Those are the ones you get softball-sized hail out of.

    • #13
    • August 18, 2019, at 6:27 PM PST
    • 4 likes