August 14th, 2016

Steph bouncy

Goddess of Thunderstorms

On Facebook, I got into a discussion on thunderstorms, and I mentioned that I've never seen a thunderstorm since moving here in 2007. Another Portlander expressed confusion at this, saying he'd seen a couple. This is how I responded:

I have a different idea of what constitutes a thunderstorm. To me, one or two rolls of thunder or flashes of lightning isn't a thunderstorm. I grew up in Iowa, which is right between two rivers. Iowa knows how to make thunderstorms; Iowa thunderstorms are the stuff of legends.

It all starts because of those two massive rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. Iowa's air soaks up water that evaporates from those rivers and holds onto it like it'll never see water again, and holds onto that water for MONTHS. You can't *drown* in Iowa's air, I don't think, but it's a close thing.

When Iowa's air finally gives up, when it can't hold onto the water any more (99.99% humidity, when you're practically swimming in the air), only then does it let all that water go... all at once. If the storm is in the daytime, you can go from sunbathing one minute to being right under a cloud so dark it blots out the sun entirely, and you think it's a moonless, starless night. Like, you go from sunny day to the darkest void of outer space in minutes.

Then there's a sound like the earth cracking open to unleash all the demons of Hell, only it's coming from above and sounds like it's an inch from your ear. Lightning makes it daylight again for a second or two at a time, every 30 seconds or so, and then all that water in the air comes down in like, an hour. At that point, you can kayak home. You can actually drown in an Iowa thunderstorm. Some of the slightly fiercer Iowa thunderstorms will actually suck you and everything around you off the ground, and deposit you in another county, assuming you survive. Iowa thunderstorms are so loud and primal that a tornado actually jumped right over our house once, when we lived in the country, and Mom was the only one who knew something wasn't normal.

I have actually seen a couple Portland "thunderstorms," and calling a Portland "storm" a "thunderstorm" is like slipping on a wet floor and calling it a 9.1 earthquake. Iowa's thunderstorms are so intense even Thor gets nervous around them. Calling a Portland storm a thunderstorm is - to me - like calling a very small hill a mountain. I would feel honored to die in an Iowa thunderstorm, it would be an epic way to die.

So yeah, I have high standards when it comes to thunderstorms.

Also, Iowa's pattern was to do exactly as I described every month or three. It never rained in Iowa unless it was one of those epic fucking thunderstorms. You wanted it to rain, you were asking for the mother of all storms to visit. The Hawaiians have Pele. Iowa has the thunderstorm version of Pele. I'm gonna call Her Pluvia Mortem.

This was cross-posted from
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