In May, I ran away to visit my wee niece, who’s almost 2 and totally adorable, just as spring was hitting the city. Spring is a big deal for me in Edmonton because winter is so long and spring is so fleeting (here one minute, gone the next). Things were just starting to bloom mid-May and the flowers quickly started to die off almost as soon as I got home (I was only gone 10 days). We’re now in the transition between spring blooms and summer blooms … which means that there’s a whole lot of lush green, but not much else. During the spring bloom, the pollen was nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much pollen – when I dusted, my cloth turned yellow.
At this time of year, we starting to get all the fun storms and real rain (by “real”, I mean rain that lasts more than a few minutes and involves steady rain instead of just a light drizzle). I love this time of year. I know my friends back home will think I’m nuts for saying this, but I miss rain.
Last Wednesday was a great example of a real rain day … plus, it got a little interesting at the end of the day.
It started with thick clouds. But, because this is Edmonton, clouds do not guarantee rain, so I usually don’t bother with a rain jacket (I always have an umbrella in my back pack). Fortunately, I looked out the window just as I was leaving, and saw that it was raining enough to need my jacket. It was a good steady rain, the kind we Maritimers come to expect when we’re told it will rain. Despite the rain and associated chill, I still wandered down along my favourite trail on the way to work. It got rainier. It was just enough rain to make taking pictures with my cell phone really difficult: either the lens was getting wet (which was impossible to remedy) or the rain drops were being registered as touches on my touch screen. But, I was not daunted and took a few pictures anyway.
By the time I got to work, anything that wasn’t covered by my jacket was wet – not damp, but actually wet. Of course, they’d cleaned the carpets in the office over night, so it was already damp in the office. This made for a chilly day at work, despite having dry clothes to change into (humid air makes you feel chilled in an air conditioned office).
The weather got a little more intense in the afternoon. Thick dark clouds, heavy rain, and hail. Eventually, they issued tornado warnings (which is to say that conditions were developing that might cause a tornado). Then things were upgraded to a tornado watch (which means that there was a good chance a tornado would develop). This made people very nervous because there was a deadly tornado 26 years ago, which is fresh in people’s minds because last year was the 25th anniversary. Eventually, we were “asked” to take shelter in the stairwells (concrete, internal and the safest place in the building). It was a bit tense. If people weren’t reminiscing about the 1987 tornado, they were nervously watching Tweeter, which was full of scary looking pictures and sensationalized Tweets. But, we were only there for about 30 minutes. Some of us decided to brave the windows, and see how things looked outside. There were still heavy, dark skies to the west, but there was clearing sky to the east, so we decided to make a run for it, so to speak (we were all heading east and the clouds weren’t moving fast, so we figured it was safe enough).
I was tempted by the river valley trail, but given that they were still looking at the possibility of another, bigger system coming in (with more chance of tornadoes), I decided to play it safe and just head straight home. The whole time, I had clear skies ahead of me, sprinkles of rain above me, and dark skies hanging menacingly over my shoulder. But, it was still a nice walk, and we didn’t get much more of anything in the evening.
It was an interesting day. I don’t think that I would want to live anywhere in tornado alley, because even with just the threat, it’s a bit stressful. I was tired by the end of the day and glad that we didn’t get any more extreme weather. That said, I’m still fascinated by scary weather and love a good thunder storm (which is probably why the Storm Giants scene in The Hobbit is one of my favourites).