As impressive as the sky can be on a breezy summer day, with towering clouds that – as my boss said the other day – look like something out of a Netherlandish painting, a prairie storm is even more impressive.
Around dinnertime today, we started following radio and TV coverage of the huge storms blowing north out of Iowa.* When the anchors on Minnesota Public Radio (motto: “We really are as calm as we sound, unless we want your money”) start sounding agitated about the weather, it might be time to start paying attention, even for a weather agnostic like me.
Sure enough, things went sideways fast – and not just the rain. The sky went purple-black, the wind started whipping our backyard trees in tight little circles, rain came and went, lightning, thunder. Name a summer weather condition short of hail and tornadoes, and we had it. We did get an alert siren, though, and dutifully headed into the closet, where Julia instantly complained of being bored and Vivi instantly started playing a game on my iPod.
After a few minutes, the siren went quiet and we came out, whereupon we played a long game of “mummy,” which involved me lying on the sofa under a blanket while the girls guarded me from tomb robbers. Later, during the extended bedtime routine, the weather went crazy again, sending in one of the scariest clouds I’ve ever seen. Now, more than an hour later, the wind is still whipping the trees around, rain is still flying laterally, and the sky is an amazingly weird shade of gray-orange. Summer in Minnesota!
* Southern Minnesota Weather Rule: Bad cold-season weather comes from the Dakotas, bad hot-season weather comes from Iowa.