A Kansan Deluge

Heading back to Missouri today, I left Denver under sunny skies and enveloped in cool, dry air.  East of Oakley, Kansas, the air acquired a noticeable haze and, by the time I reached Wakeeney, a thunderstorm loomed to the north, triggered by low pressure along a stationary front that dipped across northern Kansas and Missouri.  I managed to dodge a second thunderstorm north of Russell but, as I approached Topeka, a dark, menacing wall stretched across the eastern horizon.

Torrential rain developed before I passed through Topeka, accompanied by gusty winds and near zero visibility at times.  The latter forced me to pull off at several points along the Kansas Turnpike and I searched the radio channels for news of a possible imbedded tornado; unfortunately, there was no mention of the severe weather though I did hear snippets of country music, anti-Obama rhetoric and Bible passages.  Enduring what amounted to a slow drive through a car wash, exacerbated by intense bolts of lightning, I finally heard a severe thunderstorm warning on NPR in Kansas City.  Forty miles into Missouri, I got ahead of the storm and finished my trip under cloudy but rainless skies.  However, as I write this post, the storm is advancing east toward Columbia.

Anyone who travels across the Great Plains must be prepared for the possibility of severe weather: thunderstorms, tornados, dust storms, high winds and blizzards come with the territory.  Of course, some of the risk is courtesy of our fellow travelers, like the drivers of SUVs and 18-wheelers who barreled along the highway despite the deluge, oblivious to the hazard of pooling water.  And while numerous signs across the Plains direct travelers to certain radio channels for weather updates, they were of little help today.