Sunday, 26 July 2009

Storm light

Sitting and reading early yesterday evening ('Bedlam' by Greg Hollingshead if you must know), Mrs S looked up and said; "Bill, look at the light." While close to we were in shadow, the early evening sunlight brightly lit the middle distance with a pale yellow pastel illumination. The water was beginning to show whitecaps and tall treetops swayed, buffeted by a freshening breeze.

"Storm coming." I remarked. I've seen this sort of thing before.
"Big one?" Asked my other half, obviously thinking about possible power cuts.
"Maybe, not sure." I replied guardedly.

Over the next two and a half hours we watched a rainbow form, blowtorch bright at either end of its arc, almost too brilliant to look at directly. The pastel light took on a pale orange glow then deepened to an almost sullen ruddy glow, as if heaven itself was burning. Strangely wind sculpted clouds heralded the impending spectacular.
My dog was pacing back and forth, looking for a place to hide. He hates storms, the big wuss, and can't seem to make up his mind where to hide. Under the bed in the spare room, under my chair, in his travelling box where he normally sleeps. He just couldn't settle.

Around half past eight, and from a long way to the North east there was the first grumble of thunder. Then just before nine as the rainbow faded, the celestial light show began in earnest. From sporadic far off flashes to Medusa like branches of lightning lighting up a quarter of the sky. There was supposed to be a firework display in town to celebrate some local festival, but tonight nature upstaged it in spades. For a while I stood awestruck on the front porch. "I wouldn't want to be in Powell River." I said.
"Looks like Vancouver is catching it." Mrs S leaned on my shoulder as the storm began to head our way across the straits of Georgia.
"Do me a favour love, light some candles." We've been caught out before when the power got knocked out by lightning. We shut down the 'pooter and sat back to enjoy the free firework display. Dog finally hunkered down under the bed in the spare room.

Around tennish, massive bursts of lightning were illuminating the whole sky. Burst after livid burst and then after a short count a grumble of thunder like someone moving furniture upstairs on a wooden floor. At the storms peak, the grumbles seemed to merge so it was very difficult to work out which rumble belonged to which bolt of lightning. I did try to take some video footage, but all I got were vague flashbulb type shots that didn't adequately do the whole scene justice. Then the rain came to answer the prayers of the local firefighters and damp down the risk of forest fires, big fat droplets hammering on our skylight like a disorganised corps of drums. Flashes lit the whole sky over the islands as the wrath of the gods flared and shattered. Megavolt bolts ripping from cloud to cloud, to the sea and to the ground in brilliant crackle edged towers of light which stayed imprinted on your retinas for seconds afterwards.

Fortunately the worst passed us by, and around eleven the storm had mostly passed. The rain eased to a gentle pattering. Only a far off flash to the south to give any hint of the violence that had passed close by. The air is cool and fresh after the oppressive heat of the past two days.

As usual, I am left mentally kicking myself for not investing in a decent camera.

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