A Mighty Supercell! – Look the Threat in the Eye

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Photo: Encourager68 (June 2014)

Sometimes we are confronted with dire circumstances. Like on the evening of the 9th of June 2014 at 9.20 pm (CET) in southern Bochum (Germany). Something sinister is brewing in the sky. Many people have never seen anything like this in their lives. It looks a bit like “Independence Day 2”. An observer must fear the worst. A massive storm front comes closer. It reminds one of the many supercells (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercell) that are responsible for causing destructive tornados in the USA. In the beginning everything looks relatively harmless:

SZ 1 (09.06.14)-20%Photo: Encourager68 (June 2014)

A relatively ordinary thunderstorm. Almost comfortable to watch. But the long drawn out cloud that looks like a canopy, or a wide sail, seems strange to me. I hurry out to our balcony – and discover the approaching monstrous column of clouds behind it:

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Wow!! Is Roland Emmerich really shooting the sequel to “Independence Day” from 1996 here?? This monstrous cloud clings on to Southern Bochum like an octopus.

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With an uncomfortably fresh wind, and illuminating the sky with a sea of lightning, it slowly stalks closer.

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A fascinating sight, with an almost hypnotising effect. It becomes clear to me: I will not be safe here on the balcony for much longer. Further north the monstrous storm brews to dangerous levels:

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The trees bend under the first gusts of strong winds. And then it happens: this meteorological monster drops slowly down to the ground and lands directly upon the Ruhr University in Bochum Querenburg:

SZ 6 (09.06.14) - 20%Photo: Encourager68 (June 2014)

Oh, oh, oh! It looks like World War III. Soon everything here will be destroyed. Already the plastic chairs on the balcony are flying around my head. But I still want to wait for a few more moments and not let this natural spectacle escape me. Here comes the attack of the stormcell that is directly above me:

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The heavens grow dark. A threatening (and inauspicious) silence creeps across the otherwise bustling city.

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It becomes extremely uncomfortable and scary. A mighty wind nearly blows me from my vantage point. The trees bend, almost to the ground, under this raging storm. What unbelievable energy and strength Mother Nature can produce! Eventually it is so dark, darker than the night, that one might think that the world was about to end. And then the gates of hell open!

SZ 10 - 20%Photo: Encourager68 (June 2014)

I am able to get to my room in time. With the last bit of my strength I am able to close the tilted window. And then really all hell breaks loose outside. I have never seen such a storm in my life. With the strength of a hurricane (and perhaps stronger) masses of air and water lash against my window. I brace myself as a precaution because I am scared that soon everything will be flying around my head. Everything shakes and rattles. The treetops near me are partially torn and shredded …

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It is probably the strongest storm that I have yet experienced. A normal storm, by German standards, lasts for maybe 5 to 10 minutes. This monstrous storm, however, drags on for almost one hour and brings hail, hurricane force winds, foamy cloudbursts, lightning, thunder and pitch black darkness. There seems to be no end in sight, for a while there is no more light on the horizon. But even such a storm eventually comes to an end. However, cleaning up the roads, highways and railroads in the Rheinland and Ruhrgebiet drags on for many days. Thousands of trees were uprooted and many more treetops broken. And at least 6 people lost their lives.

What lessons may be drawn from the experience of an extreme natural threat:
  • 1. Enjoy the threat and look the storm in the eye.
  • 2. Do not run away in panic, instead try, when possible, to stay calm.
  • 3. When you feel like you have the threat under control then get to know it.
  • 4. When you realise that the threat is too strong for you then opt for flight.
  • 5. Prepare yourself, in good time, for possible threats in your life.
  • 6. And as for an approaching storm: close all the windows in good time.

© Encourager68 (August 2014)

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