Our trip from Missouri to Colorado today was almost entirely under sunny skies, with afternoon temperatures near 90 degrees F. The one, significant exception was an imposing wall of dark clouds, lightening and intense rain along the Kansas-Colorado border. Though our journey through the storms was brief and, thankfully, unaccompanied by large hail, the thunderstorms were training over Kit Carson County, including the city of Burlington, triggering a flash flood warning from the National Weather Service.
Encounters with severe weather can be unsettling in any location but they are especially terrifying on the Plains or on open water. In these areas, one gets both a broad view of the storm's size and ferocity and plenty of time to observe the approaching monster, wondering what it might do to your vehicle or boat. In addition, if caught in an open landscape, one experiences a sense of hopelessness, finding no means to escape the looming threat.
While some make their living chasing and photographing storms on the Great Plains, the rest of us are well advised to check weather forecasts prior to our journey and be willing to stop at a safe location if unexpected storms develop. Today's storms seemed to blow up before our eyes and we had no recourse but to slow down and hope for the best; fortunately, the major storms were well away from the highway as we passed through and we had only to contend with torrential rain and gusty wind. Once we were through this swath of fury, the clouds dispersed and we crossed dry, sun-drenched terrain all the way to Denver.