Return of the tempests

February 5—just last Tuesday—severe thunderstorms developed in North Texas, the same storms that would move toward the east while spawning a multitude of tornadoes.  All that destruction began here, began just west of the DFW metroplex, and as it lurked eastward it grew more powerful, more deadly.

But for us, at least here at White Rock Lake in Dallas, the severity swung shy of deadly.  Let it be said, however, and as I told Jenny as I sat here under dark, forbidding skies with wind rattling the windows and howling around the patio, I felt the storms even then were of the tornadic variety.  I specifically mentioned to her in an IM chat that I felt as though I witnessed a typical springtime thunderstorm developing and moving in, one full of spinning winds powerful and ghoulish enough to give life to that most destructive kind of storm.

Yet we in Texas were spared the ravages of what these tempests unleashed as they moved by us, as they moved away from the Lone Star State toward unsuspecting winter inhabitants throughout the region.  For these were not typical winter storms, not the kind we have witnessed before.  These were in fact the selfsame destroyers of lives we see in spring and, less frequently, in autumn.

In early February though?  Hardly.

Still, there they were, spinning up as they approached, and when they arrived I knew without a doubt that something fierce have been unleashed upon us.

At first I tried stepping out to the patio to snap some photos of the approaching squall.  As that faces west and the storms began developing in that direction, it seemed the best place to grab a photo or two.


Heavy rain and hail falling over a nearby parking lot

I pushed the bedroom door open and took one step before being pummeled with heavy rain and hail.  Fierce winds drove the downpour almost horizontally.  When it was all said and done, traces of the deluge rested as high as my head on the outside walls, and that after blowing in under the roof.

That single photograph resulted from my feeble attempt to face the onslaught.  The large, thick white stripes in the air do not demonstrate heavy rain.  Those are streaks in the image left by sizable hail.

I had to go back inside and dry off the camera and lens.  I couldn’t take a chance on getting hit with the hail, let alone having the camera assaulted directly by either the icy bombs or the torrential rain.

That said, I didn’t have to wait long to go back outside.

While severe, the thunderstorms were small and moving quickly, growing in strength and size as they moved over us toward the east.  The worst of it was over in five minutes or so.

Only then could I see how serious it had been.

The ground covered in sizable hail from a February thunderstorm

Buried under a solid coat of ice, the ground became a very different world.  A beautiful one, yes, but equally a sign of the danger that passed.

The nickel-sized volley left on the earth carried with it leaves and limbs from whatever it could overcome.  I found that a sizable bit of detritus.

A close-up of sizable hail covering the ground after a February thunderstorm

Only as they moved on and organized into something devastating did it become clear what we had escaped by falling under the shadow of this tempest’s beginning.

With winter still in place, North Texas finds itself once again under the gun.  We now have a significant chance of similar storms this evening through tomorrow morning, a dark beast of anger coming with the winds, coming as the vanguard of another cold front sweeping through the unusually warm and tropical airmass that rests over us.

This night well could be another harbinger of the return of the tempests.  Spring is starting terribly early this year…

[note: al-Zill found the cat carrier I placed on the patio for him can provide only so much protection when a lateral bombardment is taking place; the carrier has air spaces around the top section; these allowed more than a bit of rain and hail to pummel him as he lay there seeking refuge from the storm; thankfully, he quickly made his way under a nearby car where—at least—only his feet got wet; I fear the same for this evening, so I’m already looking for a way to shield the carrier on the side that faces the patio fence]

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