Strong Line of Thunderstorms Collides With Weather-Starved Pack of Meteorologists, Excited “Reportiness” Ensues

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As I’ve often noted here, I’m not a meteorologist but I do have the relatively unique honor of working with a large collection of the world’s best forecasters seven days a week.  What’s most fun about it is when the group as a whole is directly and personally impacted by a severe weather event.  Because when we get a line of thunderstorms through the Houston area, as we did last evening, after such an extremely long period without any noticeable weather . . . well, watching their reactions is fun.

Like nearly all of Texas, we haven’t seen any decent rain around here since January and that’s a very long time for a native Houstonian to go without rain.  We can take the heat of summer, the relative cold of winter, the tropical assaults, the wind, the humidity, the traffic, the mosquitoes, the hot, the flat – just don’t take our rain away.  When we finally got some decent activity yesterday afternoon in the form of a southward-rushing line of showers, 50+mph sustained winds, lightning, thunder and measurable precipitation, the best word I can think of is catharsis.  I won’t say it’s been a boring year – far too many around this country and the world as a whole have suffered way too much throughout this year’s record floods, truly savage tornadoes and unprecedented wildfires that erased entire communities.

But it was nice to get some rain.  It really was.  And to see frenetic fractals of lightning and to feel the shake and roar of thunder?  It was wonderful.  And to actually smell sweet, fresh rain.  It’s been too long.

And I’m not the only one who thought so.  As yesterday’s line moved through town during p.m. drive time, ImpactWeather forecasters, as they often do simultaneously and without any prompting, felt the need to respond by using both prose and mobile digital imagery to report in and provide the office with proof that what the afternoon shift was seeing on their computer monitors was indeed taking place out in nature.

Some of the reports were scientific yet also expressive:

“Looking west from just west of downtown.  The storm had some really nice mammatus and outflow… and in the inflow region near the heart of the storm, the storm was sucking in scud with the scud rotating horizontally in the process (thankfully not vertically).”
– Andrew Artzer, ImpactWeather Staff Meteorologist

Photo: ImpactWeather Staff Meteorologist Andrew Artzer

Some of them were strictly factual:

“Strong winds, small hail, frequent lightning and about an inch at IW’s Woodlands office.”
– Client Services and Business Continuity Programs Manager Mike Thomson

Others let the photos do the talking:

“Here's some snaps looking towards 59 just south of the Galleria.” Photo: ImpactWeather Meteorologist Steven Abreu-Hill

Yet other descriptions were flat out eloquent:

“Heading home on the motorcycle last night on 45, I commented to myself how pleasant the temp was – bike thermometer said 84. Near the NASA overpass I started getting lots of sand in my eyes, but there was no wind. I noticed the sand and debris on the shoulder of the road was really being whipped along at the speed of traffic – 60 or so. I also noticed how ‘still’ the air was (on a bike, you always have lots of airflow so that when you are suddenly in a still pocket it means the air is moving at the same speed and in the same direction as you). I looked left and saw a couple of flags – winds right out of the north and the flags looked they were putting up a good fight!

“On the downhill side of the NASA overpass the wind suddenly picked up, the temperature jumped to 96 and the humidity just slapped me. It was one of the most spectacular air mass changes I’ve ever experienced!

“It was a muggy, warm ride home – until I reached the house. Then the north wind arrived – howling, with white caps on the lake and the truck being buffeted in the driveway. About an hour later the pouring rain arrived.”
– Dave Gorham, Supervisor, Broadcast Meteorology

The view from the radar earlier yesterday afternoon. The individual cells would soon join up and plunge to the south. Image: ImpactWeather


Yeah, it was a pleasant respite.  Especially considering the fact that more voices are adding to the growing chorus that if the cycle isn’t broken soon, the drought could go on for a considerably longer time to come.

Next week I’ll share more weather photos shot by ImpactWeather employees.  (They’re not just great meteorologists.)  Wanna share your own spectacular weather photos?  Email them to me and I’ll post them.  Remember to include the when and where.

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