Weird weather

As I write this on a Friday afternoon, thunder is rolling around me. It’s been doing this now for more than 15 hours.

What’s the big deal, you ask? What’s so special about a thunderstorm on a summer day?

Well, we just don’t get weather like that around here. In the past 15 hours western Washington has seen and heard more thunder and lightning than we’ve had in many years (some reports have claimed 30+ years), and some of the most intense thunderstorm activity I’ve ever seen in my life.

Situated as we are, perched between several thousand miles of cold north Pacific water and steep mountains, we seldom get warm enough for long enough periods of time to develop strong thunderstorms. Hence the famous Pacific Northwest drizzle — lots of moisture but little energy.

While the rest of the US and many parts of the world have had record high temperatures and severe weather events over the past several months, the Pacific Northwest has remained stubbornly cool, even below our normal temperatures. Yesterday’s high of 79 was the highest of the year so far, whereas in a typical year we’d have had several days in the 80s or even higher by now. This string of thunderstorms is due to a highly unusual, strong, persistent, low-altitude low pressure system that has decided to park and hang out for a while.

Last night I saw several lightning strikes within two blocks of my house. I have large windows and a skylight, which provided a front-row view and actually caused me to duck a few times!

I had big plans for a trail run today through a remote area that is mostly clearcut with just a few big trees remaining (a friend was going to accompany me on bicycle). That does not seem like a very good idea right now.

It’s just one more kink in my training schedule. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get those long trail runs done. My typical “long” run is about 6-7 miles right now, and when I run on trails I have to run shorter. My knees have been just a little cranky and I’ve had to decide that shorter, less frequent runs will do for now. Still, I’m enjoying the running that I am doing, and on a good day it’s been delightful to run along the waterfront and take in the summertime views.

When I’m not running, I’m hiking. Due to our cool, wet spring the snow is lingering late in the mountains. My hikes continue to be stymied by four-foot deep snowbanks that seem to come every few yards, one after another so that one is always climbing up, clambering across, and climbing down. The payoff, however, is between the snowbanks. Sprouting right under the snow and literally blooming as soon as they are snow-free, there are thousands of avalanche lilies.

They will only bloom for a couple of weeks in a given location, and then they’ll be gone until next year. When I see avalanche lilies, I stop worrying or thinking about anything else. I just stop and be with them. This is my life, and it is a good one.

I shall be slow and happy wherever I go, but especially so in places like this one.

I’ll do that trail run tomorrow… maybe. These storms are forecast to continue through the weekend! 🙂

Posted on July 13, 2012, in Hiking, Nature, Running and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I hope you do get your running in…we are having weird weather, too, Lori, so I assume somehow it’s all connected. We had some rain off and on for two days and the humidity is so strange. It isn’t as rare as what you’re experiencing, but it’s certainly not typical either. The humidity is keeping everyone indoors…we just aren’t accustomed to it! And your lilies are really pretty, too. I’ve never heard of avalanche lilies! Have a good weekend…and run between cloudbursts! 🙂 Debra

    • Debra,

      Yes, I’ve been watching the weather in Palm Springs (I can’t help myself) and it has been rather lively there too. Not so unusual for southern California, as you say.

      Things here have finally calmed down, although thunderstorms are still in the forecast. I’m hoping for clear skies for Venus/Jupiter/moon/Aldebaran watching early tomorrow morning…

  2. The weather really has been wonky lately. We’re getting weird rain. It rains for about 5 minutes, then stops. Then, it seems to be building up, and we’re sure we’re gonna get a good bit of rain, and then nothing. Just thunder. One day last week, there was a thunderstorm warning. All we got was a bunch of thunder. Not a drop of rain. There are also instances of 5 minutes of rain followed by an hour of nothing, and then a two minute downpour. Very weird, but I guess it’s keeping the hurricanes away.

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