Driving through the Storm

As I left for Colorado this morning, the latest Pacific storm was spinning over the Great Plains; in Columbia, warm air and rain showers were flowing up from the south.  As I approached Kansas City, the rain intensified and numerous cars had skidded off the highway; bands of torrential rain continued until I reached Topeka, Kansas, where the temperature had dropped into the forties (F), almost twenty degrees cooler than it was in Columbia.

Light rain fell from Topeka to Salina but evidence of recent heavy rains lined the Interstate; broad shallow lakes and meandering waterways covered the valley floors while miniature badlands had been sculpted from some of the hillsides.  West of Salina, the rain ceased and the cloud deck lifted; in concert, a strong north wind buffeted my pickup and spun the turbines of the Smokey Hills Wind Farm.  The winds died down near Russell but picked up again at Hays, sweeping "backside" snow (including "thunder snow") in from the north.

While the storm conditions garnered most of my attention, I did encounter some interesting wildlife behavior on my journey.  Large flocks of wild turkeys gathered on the soggy fields of western Missouri and eastern Kansas, presumably attracted by seeds and invertebrates that were flushed from the waterlogged soil.  Farther west, across the flooded fields of central Kansas, a large number of hawks appeared (primarily red-tails and rough-legs), likely hunting small mammals as they escaped their flooded burrows.