August 29, 2008

Last night we had the most incredible night of storms I’ve ever experienced in my life, bar none. Here in the Valley of the Sun you can get some pretty severe storms during the monsoon season, but on a scale of 1 to 10 on the HCTWAAS (“Holy Cow, That Was An Amazing Storm”) scale, ten being the most awe-inspiring, last night was a ten. All in all, I watched seven storms roll through here between the hours of 7 PM and 2 AM.

The amazing thing about yesterday was that the day itself was as bright and clear as any day could be here – some humidity, but without the big building thunderheads you typically see to the east, north, and south.

Around 6 PM, I noticed some clouds to our east and south. Blue sky above us, but these clouds were filled with lightning, and you could tell it was building fast as it slid just to our southwest. Just a few drops of muddy rain from this one, but vivid lightning and some occasional distant thunder.

The second one came fast on the heels of the first (all the storms last night were moving really fast for around these parts), and originated a little west and north of the first, a trend that would continue throughout the night. The lightning was the star of this particular storm: non-stop flashes with occasional fingers of orange and green streaks. Some decent peals of thunder. A few strong gusts of wind, and a short soaking muddy rain. But the lightning was a gorgeous thing to behold, lighting up the backyard in electric blues and grays, and as it tracked just south and east of us I stood up and applauded its beauty.

It was then I thought I saw a flash to the east. Heading out front to see where that lightning came from, you could tell we were about to get bombed. To our north and closer to us still from the east all you could see was non-stop lightning. It was still far away, but you could tell this third storm was approaching fast as the thunder began to roll louder and longer. The lightning was so vivid, you could actually see the outline of the whole storm, and when it hit, it hit hard.

In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like it. Literally hundreds of lightning flashes from every direction, like a thousand flash bulbs going off continually, some in sheets, some in streaks, some like electric fingers that zig-zagged crazily directly above in reds, oranges, yelloes, and greens. The high-power lines beyond the houses across the street humming and moaning, the street lights going off and powering back up. And thunder unlike anything I’ve heard before – just a continual loud roll that lasted over 40 minutes. The storm didn’t pack much wind, and the deluge we got lasted only 20 minutes or so, but the experience was, pardon the pun, truly electrifying. Watching the spectacle above – and spectacle is exactly what it was, I recalled the words of Psalm 23:

The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is power; the voice of the LORD is splendor.
The voice of the LORD cracks the cedars; the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon,
Makes Lebanon leap like a calf, and Sirion like a young bull.
The voice of the LORD strikes with fiery flame;
The voice of the LORD rocks the desert; the LORD rocks the desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. All in his palace say, “Glory!”

As this mother of all storms tracked to our west and south, leaving behind it an amazing array of blue and white sheets of lightning, the fourth came fast on its heels. This one was a carbon copy of the previous one, perhaps just a little further north, and – at least for us – just slightly less in intensity. But you could tell the towns just north of us were really getting pounded, and I’ll bet this was the storm that caused all the damage around the Tempe and ASU area.

The fifth came shortly thereafter – again, originating a little more due north of the previous ones. Because of the intensity of the previous two, this one seemed a bit anti-climactic, a little more traditional than the others (I’d call this one more of a heavy thunderstorm than a severe one), with peals of thunder and bright yellow streaks of cloud-to-ground lightning. You knew some houses got hit by this lightning, as multiple sirens filled the air as this storm departed, leaving a nice soaking rain as it’s calling card.

The sixth and seventh in the series were more of the same, just more north of us, each one a little less in intensity, the last one finally dying out around 2 AM.

All in all, a memorable night in the Valley of the Sun, one that I will never forget as long as I live.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:32 | Comments (3)
  1. I know how much you love storms…me too. Any chance you got some pictures of the lightening? The best storm I ever experienced was in Nassau, on a island…Jeeze Oh Pete!! The sound of thunder on the ocean, the lightening all around, the black of the sky against the aqua water. It was hypnotic.

    Comment by Jana — August 30, 2008 @ 5:31 am

  2. Dear Nephew: Have just read about 10 days worth of your blogs (I’ve been busy) and the first thing I want to say is “Congratulations on the BIG PAYOFF on the credit cards. When you set your mind to something, you can do ANYTHING and you are proving it. The second thing I want to say is that in knowing you rather well since you were born and knowing your love of weather-related occurances, I am sure that last night’s episodes were the biggest thrill you’ve ever had (outside of Tracey of course). Enjoyed your descriptions immensely. Glad your vacation here was all that you hoped it would be. Take care and much love to you both.

    Comment by Auntie Marge — August 30, 2008 @ 9:24 am

  3. Thanks for your comments Jana and Auntie. Always love hearing from you!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — August 30, 2008 @ 9:41 pm

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