Storm on the Bay

Yesterday afternoon, fed by warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, thunderstorms began to form east of Sarasota Bay; their slate-gray bases obscured the distant landscape while their massive thunderheads billowed into the sky, reflecting light from the late day sun.

By early evening, one of the storms had grown out of proportion to the others, sucking in their heat and moisture and darkening the skies east of Sarasota.  We watched from our condo across the Bay as this massive storm drifted in our direction, producing flashes of lightning and sharp claps of thunder.  Ahead of that atmospheric monster, a pair of magnificent frigatebirds circled over the bay, keeping a safe distance from its vanguard of clouds.  Brown pelicans, white ibis, ospreys and a variety of herons, sensing the storm's approach, took refuge in mangrove islands while laughing gulls flew toward the strong, outflow winds, hovering above the whitecaps to snare a fish.

As quickly as the storm had developed, it subsided, raking the bay with easterly winds and pummeling its surface with torrential rain but sparing the homes and condos on Longboat Key.  For a weather buff, like myself, it was fascinating to watch the birth and demise of that powerful thunderstorm and to observe its impact on the bay and its residents.