August 25, 2008

Who's the Optimist at NOAA?

For the past week, the weather has been stormy over the mountains in the afternoons, in spite of consistent NOAA weather predictions, as of that morning, of only a 20% chance of rain. On Sunday, with the prediction again for 20% chance of rain, we hoped we'd hit the 80% that was supposed to be rain-free. We trailered up the Elkhorn Loop and then to the Chepeta Lake trailhead.
About 11, we got started on a ride on the trail toward Whitereocks Lake. We saw some hikers and a group on mules just as we crossed the Whiterocks River, but had no company after that.
Near the creek and in meadows, we saw lots of what we think is a Grey-leaf willow (right), and some mountain harebells. Much of the trail wound through spruce trees and was very rocky. We’d started out without our Easyboot Bares, but soon decided to put them on.
Unfortunately, NOAA had mis-underestimated (in Bush-speak) their forecast again. The sky clouded up by 12, and by 1, we were having lightning and loud claps of thunder every couple of minutes. The rain came down. Not hard, but enough to get us damp in spite of our dusters and other gear. The temperature dropped, too, making it fairly unpleasant. With no sign of clearing, we decided the better part of valor was to head for the trailer. Fortunately, most of our trek was through trees, so we had good cover.
This photo shows a tree that had been struck by lightning recently, maybe in the past week. It literally exploded into shards (I'm holding one of the pieces) and splinters that were splattered over the ground for a 150 foot radius. Pretty impressive force. Maybe riding in the trees wasn’t such good protection from the storm after all.

1 comment:

  1. I have some good news for you! Your blog officially has a 1/10 page rank now! You're totally beating me.
    That is cool seeing a tree that exploded that way.



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