A Downburst from the Inside Out

In the heart of the storm

Downburst: a strong downward current of air from a cumulonimbus cloud, usually associated with intense rain or a thunderstorm.

See Sun Breaks for 7/11/16 (Microbursts, Dangerous and Sneaky)

We’d been following Highway 2 that morning through Alberta’s high, rolling fields of grain and canola. The land lifted gradually toward the Rocky Mountains in the west. Somewhere east of Crow’s Nest Pass in neighboring British Columbia, high in open hills, thunder suddenly exploded above us. A thick murk blotted out the light. Along with it came a downpour that the wipers couldn’t clear.

We groped our way to the side of the road along with other blinded drivers, marveling as bigger and bigger hailstones joined the rain crashing down on us. I opened the door to try to grab a picture.

Water and hail churning the torrent pouring down the road

Water and hail churned into the air six inches or more above the torrent pouring across the road. I spent the next few minutes drying myself and the interior of the car and collecting hailstones from the floor. Then it was over and we joined the rest of the vehicles making our way gingerly through thick slush on the highway. A few hundred feet further on the road was sunny and dry!

In all the noise and excitement, we didn’t notice any wind. But if we were right in the center of a descending downburst, as I think we were, would we have noticed the usual wind barreling outward? Until someone tells me otherwise, I’m convinced we’d been caught in the very center of a mountain microburst.

Hail floating on the road

Proceeding with caution

Hail…melting fast

Storm over

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