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?
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!