Author Topic: Watch the weather. It isn't back home on the block.  (Read 614 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Westinghouse

Watch the weather. It isn't back home on the block.
« on: May 12, 2024, 06:27:26 am »
With a view to these latest rounds of storms and tornadoes, it is good practice to stay ahead of the weather. A cyclist touring long distances could find himself wild-camped away from a roadway when some unprecedented wild powerful storm suddenly appears and wreaks serious damage. It happened three times to me.  As far as I know, googling weather forecasts for different regions should yield accurate reliable information.  When you do not know severe storms are coming, they can take you by surprise.  I cycled the southern tier one summer east to west. It was hotter than hell, but otherwise the weather was great.There was 25 minutes of rain in Slidell Louisiana, and one night of heavy rain near Las Cruces, New Mexico. That was it for a two month tour. Doing the southern tier again there were extremely serious very dangerous radical changes in the  weather. On another crossing it was a miracle I survived it. Doing a transcontinental bicycle tour can bring you to very nice weather with rain here and there. It can also steer you into a seriously hazardous situation, if you do not keep yourselves forewarned. I ignored the weather advisories. I also woke up to a tornado shredding trees all around near the Mississippi in or south of Minnesota, 1987. I got myself into a number of fixes with the weather while bicycle touring because I was not prepared.

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1924
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Watch the weather. It isn't back home on the block.
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2024, 10:02:34 pm »
Being in the heart of tornado alley, my biggest advice is to pay attention to what the locals say and do.  If the locals are not overly concerned, you will probably be ok.  The problem with the NOAA weather alerts is that they are for too wide of an area.  Tornados are highly localized, i.e. if a tornado is 1/2 mile away and not coming at you, you are fine.  Plus they typically are on the ground for only a few minutes (maybe a couple of miles or so).  If you watch a local TV weather report, only when the "Tornado Warning" box is flashing on the weather map do you worry.  They used to use the term Tornado Alert to signify the same thing but for some reason, that is no longer used.  Anyway, a flashing box means an actual tornado has been either spotted by an official or by weather radar using tell-tale signatures.  Plus, at least here in Oklahoma, they can spot a tornado on radar within a half mile so if the TV report says on is on the ground 5 miles away, you are probably fine so long as the storm cell is not headed toward you. TV reports also give the ETA of the storm to very specific areas so it helps to know the name (or nickname) of the area you are in. 

If a tornado is imminent, take cover in a slow spot.  Do not take shelter in a mobile home (I swear they have tornado magnets in them), RV, or other less-sturdy structure.  If at a campground, a bathroom is usually a pretty good choice as they are frequently made out of cinder blocks and contain lots of small "rooms" without windows. 

Also, in the day time, if you see a green sky (yep, green), take immediate cover as that means a pretty severe hail storm is very close by.  Note that hail can easily come without a green sky but if a green sky, you got hail and plenty of it. To me, hail is the most likely to cause some serious damage.  Nickel-sized hail will shred a tent.  Baseball size hail (usually in KS, NE, SD, IA) can easily kill.

Most weather related scared I have been was in Wyoming decades ago in July.  I was somewhere northwest of Dubois and I was camping at a campground up on a ridge with no trees.  Middle of the night a ferocious lightning storm came up.  Lots of booms at the same time as the flash (means lightning is REALLY close) nearby.  Probably lasted about 10 minutes but boy was I scared.  I kept wondering if my little aluminum tent poles would act either as a lightning rod or disperse a strike. 

I personally love a strong thunderstorm as it shows the power of Mother Nature, so long as no one is hurt of course.

Tailwinds, John

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Watch the weather. It isn't back home on the block.
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2024, 04:05:15 am »
Tornadoes were not a concern in south Florida. I was not exposed to those devices and social attitudes. I was cycling east to west across the southern tier of counties in Tennessee. It was intuition more than any thing else that alerted me. Televisions in cafes and restaurants mentioned the weather but it all seemed sketchy, equivocal, indistinct. I wheeled up to a convenience store and went in. A group was around a television inside. I asked about the weather. I was told the weather was fine. Good weather they said. But my intuition told me all hell would break loose, so I stayed around the store. This debacle from hell hit within an hour. Multiple tornadoes, hail, heavy rain, howling straight-line wind and a stroboscopic lightning show that turned night into day. It was an all time record high for tornadoes. 57 touched down in one day. Nobody was hurt. The tornadoes hit away from inhabited dwellings.  They closed shop. I asked if I could rack out in the front seat of a truck there. Yes I could, and I did and that storm lasted for hours.

If I had continued cycling and not stopped there, I would have been well into a heavily wooded area with no shelter anywhere except under a tree.

Google comes up with weather forecasts for towns as small as Van Horn, Texas.   Sometimes weather systems form for days and weeks like hurricanes. Easy to track them. Weather conditions known to produce tornadoes can be identified and tracked. One-day in the 1980s I was driving north on US 1 in Stuart, FL. I got out to make a phone call at the phone booth. At that moment, a twister came down. It flung things off a roof.  It knocked down a big sign onto the roadway. It went across US1 shaking a bunch of pine trees and went  back up.

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1924
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Watch the weather. It isn't back home on the block.
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2024, 08:28:02 am »
I got out to make a phone call at the phone booth.
You might have to describe what a "phone booth" is for our younger generations, especially if it was a rotary dial phone.  ;D

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Watch the weather. It isn't back home on the block.
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2024, 06:34:00 am »
I got out to make a phone call at the phone booth.
You might have to describe what a "phone booth" is for our younger generations, especially if it was a rotary dial phone.  ;D

You know those phones. Some phone booths were semi-open. Most were enclosed on all four sides. The phones were rotary. They were pay phones. Coins went into a slot. If you did not have the fifty cents, you could still make a call. Strip  the small rubber tips off a bobby pin. Stick one leg of the pin into the mouthpiece so it makes contact. Pull out the change receiver and touch the pin to the bare metal with the pin. It made the connection same as when coins were inserted.