Saturday, August 24, 2019

Still Life with Robin: The T-Storms of August

Photo by Tech Sgt. Cherie Thurlby - Public Domain

by Peggy Robin

Today was a rare one, wasn’t it? When I first stepped outside to pick up the newspapers, the air temperature was at an all-but-forgotten 63 degrees. Low humidity. Sunny but with a few puffy clouds scudding through the blue above. A light breeze. I don’t believe we’ve had a day so glorious since May. And yet this was August in Washington, DC. And it wasn’t a dream….

Now let’s think back to the week before, which was more or less what we’ve come to expect all the time in August. By that I mean, you never really know what to expect in the way of bad weather. Hot and humid, of course, but toward the end of every day you have to ask yourself, will there be an afternoon or evening thunderstorm, or won’t there? You turn to the Capital Weather Gang and every day, you see, it’s “40 percent chance….. 50 percent chance.” And those thunderstorms are never everywhere -- they’re always “widely scattered.” Which means this: if you are planning to invite people over to a backyard barbecue, your house will be at the very epicenter of the storm. You’ll see rain in sheets, lighting in bolts, and hailstones flying like golf balls on a driving range. Your back yard will turn into a reservoir from edge to edge. And if you cancel the barbecue based on the chance of a thunderstorm? That’s when you discover that “widely scattered” means that the sun will keep on shining on your backyard, while the next neighborhood over is the one under water. It’s as if the Capital Weather Gang’s predictions have merged with Murphy’s Law.

To see what this looked like historically, we have only to flip back through the collection of weather pix and videos posted from around our area last week. The Washington Post had an amazing collection of storm/not-storm shots (you will need to scroll down past all the technical descriptions of how the severe thunderstorm developed so quickly) to see the reader-submitted pictures:

Even better were the photos of the skies after the storm was over. Spectacular sunsets, and rainbows, too:

The Popville blog also had a fine collection of photos:

But my award to the most dramatic video goes to Chris Duncan, a Twitter poster, for his ““Welcome to L'Enfant Falls” video:

The Capital Weather Gang tells us that this unusual spell of fine weather will be with us through Monday or maybe Tuesday, and then it's back to “chance of a thunderstorm” in the afternoon or evening. And that's the way it is in August in DC.... 

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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