Friday, August 5, 2011

Storm Clouds - SWF

If yesterday’s topic was a little too bright for you, today’s post should help bring you back to normal. This has been a year of weather extremes. The drought of last fall carried almost through the winter. Spring was a time of excess rainfall and several violent storms. The start of summer coincided with the beginning of dry weather and things continued into a period of record heat. Instead of getting rain, Blue Jay Barrens has been a spawning ground for developing storms that have gone on to drench other areas. I was lucky enough to be on hand when this storm developed.

It’s exciting to watch storms form overhead. Instead of clouds moving in from some distant point, they appear and continue to expand in place. Scraps of cloud were moving in a dozen different directions as the mass rapidly filled the sky. Surface winds were just as unpredictable. A few seconds of wind to my face would suddenly be replaced by wind to my back and it kept changing every couple of seconds. The temperature changed just as frequently as the direction; first 90 degrees and then cold enough to give you shivers.

Weather isn’t just something that adds a touch of variety to conditions at Blue Jay Barrens. Weather patterns can have a significant and sometimes long lasting impact on plant and animal populations. The extremely wet spring has resulted in an excess of leaf growth on many of the perennial forbs. I assume that energy reserves are being replenished and root systems restored. This has been coupled with reduced flowering for many of these plants. With many species it’s stressful weather that triggers flower and fruit production, while good weather focuses the plant’s resources on improving it’s own condition.
I have to wonder how many people saw a face in this cloud. I sure did.

Studying current weather conditions can help me plan what activities I should expect to do this winter or next year. Drought retards the growth of many prairie plants. This makes conditions good during the winter for locating and removing unwanted cedars and other woody growth from the prairies. Wet years result in excellent growth the following spring, so that’s a perfect time to search for new species that may have gone unnoticed before.

The storm finally got organized and moved off to dump a couple of inches of rain on people about five miles away. I hope they appreciated the splendor of the clouds that Blue Jay Barrens had created for them. The churning black mass with little faux tornadoes dangling beneath should have sent everyone running for cover.

A Skywatch Friday submission


  1. Ah, rain. We are so happy to get it over here right now. Sorry yours moved on, but love the cloud images. Yes, I see the face. :)

  2. I love storm clouds. Great captures!

  3. You've gone from one color extreme to the other - in 24hrs! Both work.

  4. Hi, Lois. Thanks for seeing the face. Some people think I'm crazy for seeing faces in everything.

    Thanks, Karen.

    Thanks, CP. I'm often all over the board.