Have you ever experienced a high plains prairie T’Storm?
You might ask “What is a Prairie T’Storm?”
Diane and I agree thunderstorms on the prairie are quite different from storms we have experienced in other parts of the country. Prairie t'storms are sudden, robust and forceful.
First we watch a build up of high rising clouds that slowly turn grey. The build up continues while changing to a darker and foreboding color. It stays this way for several hours until we begin noticing lightning within the clouds, no sounds just very bright lightning flashs now and then. It comes quietly out of the west from the mountains beyond.
The clouds lower over the land, a silence that is deafening, song bird suddenly disappears, and there is no wind. There is a frightening and unusual calm across the land. This may last for five to ten minutes, still no thunder but the lightning continues high up within the clouds. A few drops of rain begin to pitter-patter on our roof and out of nowhere a sudden and violent gush of wind hits our coach with such force it causes it to rock. The wind creates a frightful howling sound, moaning and groaning like something from a horror film. This ominous sound continues for several minutes then suddenly in a flash the earth is bright white followed by a loud blast of thunder. It is so sudden it scares the hell out of you.
The sound waves vibrate through you like nothing you have ever felt. It chills your soul!
Then the hail, at first an insignificant measure building to a raging downpour of white ice crystals. It’s like a huge wave, a screen of white attacking the land. Marble-sized hail pounds the earth, strikes the windshield of our coach and pick-up and beats on our roof in a loud, ominous, and threatening manner. Anyone caught outside could be injured; the downpour of hailstones is so great it covers the ground in minutes with a layering of white crystals.
All around you bright white bolts of lightning are striking the earth, bouncing off trees and other high peaks.
Rain follows; heavy large droplets create swift running streams and giant puddles. Once again the howling, the loud wailing of the wind as it races across the prairie. It is a ten to 15 minute experience before it settles down with a continuation of rain. The lightning and thunder move on and we can begin to relax again.
Last night around midnight, the force of the howling wind woke us from a deep slumber. The storm's approach was like a thief in the night. I heard our topper rattling fiercely, the trees beyond the coach were using their strength to stay upright and the rain and hail came behind quickly. Diane and I were able to retract the lounge slide before any damage could be done. We didn’t get much sleep until after 2 am when everything settled down.
This morning it is grey with a strong breeze across the park. Such is life on the prairie.