Thursday, September 1, 2016

Torrent on the Plains

Returning to Missouri yesterday, we enjoyed mild, sunny weather from Denver through western Kansas.  Then, as we descended toward Hays from Wakeeney, a massive band of storm clouds stretched across the northeastern horizon.

Intermittent rain developed near Russell, Kansas, and ominous, turbulent clouds raked the plateau north of Ellsworth, whirling the turbines of the massive Smoky Hills wind farm with a gusty, northeast wind.  As we dropped from that high terrain and approached Salina, torrential rain pummeled the highway and rapidly flooded the adjacent fields.  Traffic slowed to a crawl (except for the occasional driver who tempted fate) and the blinding rain continued for almost 30 miles, letting up near Solomon.

The culprit for this torrent was a cold front, dipping down from the Northern Plains.  As it knifed beneath, warm, humid air flowing up from the south, a violent clash ensued, lifting the southerly flow and squeezing out its copious moisture.  While the storm slowed our travel for more than an hour, its impressive dynamics offered a stirring demonstration of nature's power.