Last night it felt like I wasn’t in Kansas anymore… I mean, Colorado.
I’ve been house- and dog-sitting for my mom & step dad, and last night was pretty stormy, causing our psychotic dogs to go more nuts than usual because of the thunder. I eventually crated my parent’s two small dogs, and got my old-man doggy to lie down and relax enough that I too managed to fall asleep — for all of an hour.
I was startled awake at midnight by what my mind first said was an air raid. Then I realized it was tornado warning sirens. At first it didn’t seem all that bad, so I tried to turn on the TV, but no satellite signals could be received. I checked the National Weather Service website on my phone and saw that indeed I was under a tornado warning with the storm cell moving in over Lakewood and headed straight for me. Once the tornado sirens cut out, I could hear the thunder was starting to increase again and I could hear a lot of emergency vehicle sirens in the distance. Shortly after this I thought one such vehicle was outside on the street, and then realized the constant strobe-light-like flashing I was seeing was not a police car’s lights but continuous lightning directly overhead.
Stepping outside and looking up was pretty intense. The air was remarkably still at the moment, but the clouds were rotating in a very scary way. It was the sound however that really got my hairs standing on edge. I can only describe it as being inside a continuous roll of thunder. Various pictures filled my head. First was a man shaking a big sheet of metal continiously creating a loud warbling metallic sound that was growing louder. I then began to imagine a train barreling towards me, and I was standing on the tracks. It was then that the first strong gusts of wind began and I decided to go inside and take myself and the dogs down to the basement.
I had no sooner gotten the dogs locked up in the spare bedroom and got the windows cracked upstairs when it sounded like the sky had begun to fall. In some respects the basement window well covers probably made it sound worse that it was, but it sounded like someone doing a drum roll on a very large bass drum. Sneaking back upstairs I saw that rain and hail was falling so intensely it looked like an ocean had just appeared overhead. My car was completely covered in a couple inches of white stuff so that it seemed I was in the dead of winter.
Eventually the worst passed, and the dogs and I returned upstairs. It took another hour or so to get the dogs settled enough that I eventually fell back asleep and slept much longer than I had intended, as I had the day off and had planned to get up early and go for a hike (more on that hike can be found here). When I finally did get up and assess the damages in the light of day, I was pleased to see that we had gotten through pretty much unscathed.
Yes, the trees had lost a bunch of leaves, but they looked fine. The front garden seemed to have taken the worse as all the flowers were mere tatters and the plants were beaten down pretty badly, but looked like they would spring back once things dried up a bit. The thing that shocked me though was that at this point, at 9am, there were still “drifts” of hail all about the place. This is the only photo I took, taken just after 9am, of a good 2 to 3 inches of hail stones all frozen solid at one of the downspouts of my mom’s house.
Later, around 11am I left to take the hike I had intended to take around 8am or so. The sun was still out, it was pretty warm out and just up the road at the bottom of a high slope at a nearby park I saw large “drifts” of hail stones at least a foot thick where water would have pooled and accumulated during the storm. I continued to see these large patches of ice for miles around until I got closer to the foothills where it finally petered off. Another friend reported he had seen piles of hail three feet deep in places around Littleton. In June, more than 12 hours later, despite the sun and heat!