The first time I saw hail was in Pisa and everyone ran for some kind of cover because the hail was large and painful. My grandma told stories of hail storms in Italy, in particular one that came and ruined a whole season worth of crops. The horses knew it was coming before everyone else did. The first time I saw a wind storm was my first fall in Los Angeles, I heard it through the trees and later walking around there were palm fronds everywhere, on the sidewalks, stopping traffic in the street and they were huge, ten or twelve feet or bigger and I’d never known how massive they were, how strong the wind must have been to blow them down.
I love reading about weather, about snow and ice and rain, cold fronts, wind and thunder. This week, Entropy contributors shared some of their beautifully written storm stories.
I have clear, and vivid memories of playing basketball in torrential rain as a kid. I mean like the ground was flooded and when you tried to bounce the wall it just sank into a 1 foot puddle but we played anyways. Also, last year, after a good-sized storm for SoCal, a tree got knocked down and blocked the driveway for a day. And then, several years ago, there were some major storms and snow at really low elevations over a New Years weekend. I was on my way to LA from the bay area, and it should have taken about 5 hours, but with the many detours because the snowstorms kept moving, it took over 15. Plus it started snowing ON the detour that was supposed to move us AWAY from the snowstorm, it was bumper-to-bumper traffic, so for a brief fun second, the tires on my very non storm-sturdy Toyota Echo froze to the road.
Erin Hart Wisti
I come from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which (excluding Alaska) is about as far north as you can go in the US without hitting Canada. Winter lasts 6 to 8 months and random snowstorms are a frequent occurrence. One year, there was a snow day on my birthday. I was born April 17th. Anyway, my first year of grad school I came home for Christmas but was horrified at the idea of being stuck up north for New Year’s. There’s nothing to do but hang around local bars with names like The Doghouse and The Green Light. In such establishments, you usually run into people in their 30s and 40s with longstanding drinking problems or (worse) high school classmates who’ve done nothing with their lives but still think they’re better than you because they were popular five years ago. It’s a depressing place. My older brother and I had this big plan to go down to Chicago, where I lived at the time, for New Year’s and hit up the bars there. But, OF COURSE, it snowed nonstop for basically an entire week leading up to December 31st and we ended up stuck in the UP. We went out to dinner with the family at a place called The Pilgrim River Steakhouse, where the table cloths have cartoonish drawings of bears and raccoons and there’s literally nothing on the menu but entrees that contain beef. My brother and I spent all of New Year’s bar hopping with our 43 year-old uncle and our cousin who barely drinks, running into old classmates who were completely smashed. This more or less explains why I fled to Los Angeles shortly after finishing school. I never want to deal with snow again. Ever.
In a waking dream, I conjure memories of a hurricane.
The front door: swollen shut.
Upon our return we peered in the window to find dead fish heaped in a pile next to the TV, a brown waterline crossing the new refrigerator at hip level. The smell was exactly how you’re imagining it.
We shoved my brother the break-in-artist through the wind-busted bathroom window. He crashed to the floor, adding yet another scar to his collection.
By the next year, he would be the bigger, myself descending to the position of the child who can best slip into small spaces. The next spring, I would be the one sent slithering under the porch to pull out the crab traps.
The vinyl floor had taken on the shape of the wake of a slow-moving boat. We loved the way our marbles acted on their new terrain and wondered what it would have been like had we not evacuated. Because we did not stay, I still harbor romantic fantasies of floating down that street in a dinghy, greeting my neighbors as if I were on a parade float, and them waving back at me from their rooftops.
This year when the hurricane comes, we move my mother far south, away from the storm. My brother again gets to break into the house, this time alone, as I am watching the weather maps from two time zones away. He grabs photo albums from the attic. This is all my mother asked for, saying that nothing else in the house was important. He leaves behind: our baby teeth, his own wedding album, our mother’s tap shoes, my swimming trophies. He drives inland at the second evacuation warning. By nightfall, the bridge that connects the island to the mainland is well underwater. Modern technology lets us know when the ocean met the bay. The island becomes an array of rooftops, or so says The Weather Channel.
Our dock detaches and lands on the neighbor’s porch, smashing their picture window. We were left wondering what will remain when the water draws back. Two “Hurricanes of the Century,” both within my memory.
I awoke to rolling plains thunder and spits of rain. It was a dry high based storm, I could tell by the lightning lighting the high based clouds above the farm and by the little batches of big fat rain drops. I went out to watch as he had given me a key if I needed to go before morning for some reason and as I headed out the back door of the farm house the wind was warm and the drops cracked like eggs on my head. I looked up waiting for the next lightning to light the night sky when I heard something else. It seemed to grow in volume from a muffled vague ruffling to what grew into some sort of clarity. I must say here that I am not crazy, was wide awake, was not drinking and have thought long and hard about even writing about this. Ok, here goes. It was voices. Yes. Two different voices that as they grew louder were of an older and a younger man, both with a firm almost grave tone of voice, one was saying something of a warning to the other but I only could make out a few words amongst the wind and my disbelief. The words were these: hill, wound, you can’t and something that sounded like bandage. Then it seemed to move east away fading into quiet and then nothing.