Thor’s Thunder A Reminder
By Michael A. Bengwayan
Thor’s Thunder A reminder
By Michael A. Bengwayan
A few seconds before dead of the night, it came. Lightnings on the east followed by rolling thunder like God playing bowling. The sky trembled, the world moved and pandemonium started to break loose. the typhoon’s shafts of lightning and roars of thunder have come. The stormy season is here. And will be for a long time.
I looked out, nay peered, is most likely. Cold pulses of air stab through the thick blanket of humidity that lays on this region like a wet feather mattress. Even on the northwest side of this mountain I can see moist air being lifted by sinking cold air that forces the the dank atmosphere skyward. The battle between these two atmospheres creates static and I can feel the hair standing up on my arm as if I’d just seen a ghost. There will be a thunderstorm today no doubt; but there are unanswered questions. Where? When? How bad?
King Kong , the king of Longlong, my five year old German Shepherd is nervous, and hides in my office. My cat Cooper stands on the deck with his nose in the air. It seems he senses danger. It took me years to learn the recipe for a strong storm but dogs recognize the necessary ingredients long before humans know what is going on.
I wander out onto our deck and look northwest. The sky is dark and angry. PAGASA National Weather Service has issued a storm watch for the Cordillera country but I often laugh at how the weather forecasters issue warnings. It is as if they expect a storm to respect a political boundary; this is human nonsense at its greatest proportion. The dark clouds have long spiral tails that hang down. What I really am witnessing is all of the warm moisture being lifted into the clouds. The speed of the cloud movement, from west to east, is astounding. The clouds are no longer separate. The delineation from one condensed mass of moisture to another has been smudged into a carpet of black and gray.
I watch mashed black clouds with menacing tails rush east. The skies open up. Rain falls like there is no tomorrow. I am reminded of the the typhoons tornadoes that struck an area half a mile from me called Kibungan village almost exactly a year ago. They stayed on the ground for forty miles; F-4′s that blew away the past, present, and future of hundreds of people. A wide swath of destruction that will be evident for a generation was formed in moments; homes lost, lives dashed, dreams sent to the middle of the China Sea. Hopefully not today, not this time. Lightning careens down and cracks open the earth. Thunder pounds this part of the planet with the force of ancient Gods. Winds force the heavy rain horizontally. Our house lights flicker and then they are gone. The only thing we can do is watch, listen, and take the storm into our hearts and minds. Absorbing a bad storm lessens the fright. Fear has no place here. We sit quietly. The storm pounds on and on.
It is almost July.. This changing of weather this time of year, from cool to warm to cool, is normal. There have been many storms like this. Perhaps thousands in my lifetime that I have endured. And each time I wonder what is in store. When the atmosphere feels dangerous we all stand alert.
I think back to my childhood. When I was very young and frightened by a storm my older sister would get in my bed at night when the thunder and lightning storms raged on and tell me that God was bowling. That used to make me laugh. I pictured a giant bowling alley, with ginormous pins, and gargantuan bowling balls being cast about making loud crashing noises. The image of God bowling was hilarious!
This series of storms has ebbs and flows. Cold fronts seem to come in waves, like the sea rolling to shore. With each wave there is another line of thunder boomers. The sky goes from gray to black to gray. The sound in the sky goes from quiet to loud to quiet. And even though the clock tells me it is still the afternoon the view out our windows is dark. Each bolt of lightning produces a strobe-like flash.
Since the days of my childhood I have counted the time between a flash of lighting and the sound of thunder. I count slowly, about once per second. Sound travels at 1126 feet per second. A count of five means the storm is roughly a mile away. A count of fifteen means it is roughly three miles away. This is something I learned from my grandfather. He was a soldier and knew the dangers of an electrical storm. Counting through these storms is valuable. I can tell how far away storms are after they have passed and I can tell the distance of storms as they approach. Like waves crashing to shore they keep coming.
I look outside. The wind blows and the white underneath side of the leaves on the trees is exposed. This contrasts sharply against the darkness of the day. It is dramatic but familiar. I remind myself that I’ve been here before when not in the safety of a house. Being caught in a lightning storm near a river or lake is dangerous. Especially in an aluminum boat. You can’t be too careful when it comes to lightning. A bolt of lightning can be a billion volts at 200000 amperes. It can turn a human into charcoal. Not a pleasant thought.
Even being inside can be dangerous.