A Truly Terrifying Thunderstorm

I have had three very scary encounters with weather, and all of them involved wind and rain.

The first occurred when I was camping in Big Bend National Park.  We were 5 miles up the mountain, having hiked all afternoon, and staying in a tiny tent.  Since we had walked in, we had brought only what we needed.  First it was incredibly windy, and after we had fallen asleep the storm blew in.  Rain pounded our little tent.  When my mind realized that I was trapped, since I couldn’t very well hike down the mountain in a downpour, I panicked.  On a mountain, in a tent, is not a very pleasant way to experience a night of pouring rain.

The second scary weather was Hurricane Ike.  I had moved to Houston just 3 months before the storm.  I’m sure I don’t need to explain the frightening aspects of a hurricane.  The hardest part was overnight.  The wind rattled the windows, the rain came down in sheets, and I tried (and mostly failed) to sleep with husband, dog, and parrot on the floor of our walk-in closet.

The second night of my writer’s retreat provided my third terrifying encounter with weather.  Again, this was a storm with wind and rain, and again, it occurred overnight.

As you know, I was entirely by myself on this retreat.  I was staying in a screened shelter, which is basically a stand-alone screened-in porch with half of the screens covered in wooden louvers.  While it was a bit more secure than a tent, it was still not a reassuring place to ride out a storm.

The lightning came first, flickering like a horror movie.  The sky was more light than dark for most of the night.  I called a friend to get a weather forecast (the radar was red and orange and heading my way) and I talked to my sister on the phone to help me calm down.  When the rain arrived, I thought I would be okay.  A little blew in through the screens at the front half, but none was reaching me.  I checked several times, but there were no leaks in the ceiling.  I felt like I could drift off, like my fears were silly.  I even started to draft a writing practice (in my head) based on the storm.

Of course, just as I started to fall asleep, the storm changed.  The wind picked up, blowing rain through the entire shelter.  At one point the ceiling was so wet that it, too, was dripping on me.  All I could do was huddle inside my sleeping bag and let it take the brunt of the water.  Thank goodness for my laptop case and the carrying bag for my sleeping bag; they sheltered my computer, the only major thing I was worried about getting wet.

After a bit, the wind settled.  Again, I started to fall asleep.  It lasted only a few moments before I was jolted awake by an incredibly loud, ground-shaking clap of thunder.  For about five minutes the lightning hit nearby, the thunder rattled my shelter, and I was sure that a tree was about to fall on my roof.  It was one of the few times I have been truly terrified.  Fortunately it passed, my stuff stayed (mostly) dry, and the next day I found the storm provided inspiration for the next chapter of Dragon Pendant.

After all of that, I’ve decided that thunderstorms at night are fine, but only if I’m inside something with four walls and windows that won’t break.