Wild Texas weather descended upon the ranch Wednesday around eight pm. The sky lit up and rumbled, but it was all bark and no bite. Nary a drop of rain. Grumbling, I went to bed. You see, it’s been:
Dry so long, we only got a quarter-inch of rain during Noah’s Flood.
So dry the birds are building their nests out of barbed wire.
So dry the catfish are carrying canteens.
So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
So dry my duck don’t know how to swim.
So dry I’m spitting cotton.
Dry as a powder house.
Dry as the heart of a haystack.
Drier than a popcorn fart.
Then, around midnight, mother nature got serious, and a severe thunderstorm alert came through both cell phones and the land line. I’d risen to check the cell (I won’t sleep with it) and answered the land line on my vintage pay phone knockoff. However, when the recording said to punch “1” to acknowledge receipt, I couldn’t find the button—too dark and no glasses.
By four a.m., I’d had enough of the gods fighting. Besides, I heard hail. Getting up, I stumbled into the kitchen to check my kick ass weather station via my cell. Hmm. Only one inch of rain but over 2,000 lightning strikes near me in the last three hours!
With absolutely nothing on TV at that ungodly time of day, my mind wandered to past bouts with wild Texas weather.
PAST RUN-INS WITH WILD TEXAS WEATHER
Two episodes happened in Girl Scouts before the day of cell phones and instant contact in the universe.
- Camp Counselor, Peach Creek Ranch, New Caney, Texas. Wanting a break, I volunteered to drive the camp pickup truck loaded with supplies about ten miles on a dirt road through the woods. Fourteen teenage campers and their counselors had ridden horses to the Lake Houston campsite. We pitched tents and cooked dinner. Noticing clouds gathering, I instructed the campers to gather and cover firewood for the morning meal.
Darkness and sprinkles sent us into the tents. Soon, I began to feel a mist on my face. What the nkl%^&*$? Turns out the canvas tents we were using were brand new and hadn’t been seasoned. Basically, you need to set them up, water them down, and then the canvas tightens, preventing leaks.
So, what you gonna do with fourteen teenagers, three adults, and sixteen horses out in the middle of nowhere? Absolutely nothing. We had no way to call for help so we just toughed it out. The next morning, we were all drenched. But, we did have a nice warm fire and a hot meal.
- Girl Scout Camp Martha Madley, Conroe, Texas. Troop 5050 (I was a leader) was enjoying a wonderful spring weekend in the woods. We all bedded down in big canvas tents with wooden floors; the sides rolled up because of the heat. In the middle of the night, a gully washer packing winds that seemed like a hundred miles an hour hit. Well, at least strong enough to knock over a tall wooden shelf in the tent. In no time flat every piece of clothing the elementary girls owned was soaked. We leaders herded the children into the covered shelter and ran through ankle-deep water gathering their belongings in black plastic trash bags. Then we hightailed it out of Dodge and back to Houston.
In those days we had a telephone tree. You call one parent, and he/she is responsible for calling the others. Parents met our bedraggled crew around two in the morning. We dumped the contents of the bags on the garage floor and everyone sorted through the soggy mess.
THOUGHTS ABOUT WILD TEXAS WEATHER
Today, these weather fiascos wouldn’t have happened because ample warning about inclement weather is available with the click of a button. According to the Washington Post, weather models in the 1970s and 80s were coarse. It would be like comparing television resolution in 1960 to the 4k-flat screen models that are available today. Now, forecasts can be accurate as far as five days out: information abundant.
So, if you’re caught in inclement weather, it’s your own damn fault.