Mentally, I'm still on vacation…

… and part of it is due to my obsession with this strange cloud formation we encountered in central Missouri. In all my travels I have never seen this type of cloud. While it looks menacing and otherworldly, it isn’t always dangerous. It depends.

We came upon this mass at the end of a hot and sunny day exploring a portion of the Missouri Ozarks, a densly forested area of low mountains. As we worked our way northeast toward St. Louis the topography opened up to the plains and presented a stunning view of  this massive dome. As we drew closer and then slipped underneath it, we were both thrilled and agitated.

We are veteran road trippers through the nation’s broad and flat central states. We’ve witnessed a number of strong storms and violent weather. I recall my father outrunning a tornado in Kansas back in the mid-1970s. Although we only saw the rotating skies overhead and never witnessed the funnel or touchdown, we followed the course of the storm by way of a crackling AM radio broadcast. My only other memory of that afternoon was a stop at an ice cream stand where we had cones and my dad took a long pull on a bottle of bourbon.

Memories of that day as well as how clouds look in the Michigan skies when tornado sirens roar to life had my heart jumping and my fingers dancing on the car radio scan buttons. I switched to the Weather Band, fully expecting to hear the staccato squawks of the Emergency Broadcast System. Nothing. We were puzzled. How could something so daunting be so uneventful? We checked Weather Bug, a cell phone app, and saw a large storm cell on radar moving northeast of us but we never encountered anything more than moderate rainfall.  Later,  I did a little Internet sleuthing and learned it was a shelf cloud, which is attached to the leading edge of a large thunderstorm. Based on all the YouTube uploads, I’m not the only person to be fascinated and fooled by this weather phenomenon.

This is the first sighting of the cloud, which looks like a space craft.

Almost under the cloud. Camera in one hand, the other scanning radio stations for a weather report. No warnings. No big deal.

Another view as we moved under the cloud

Under the cloud. The wisps descending earthward resemble funnel clouds, but they are not a threat.

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Most wonderful time of the year

icicles

Mother Nature, you’re so funny.

When I submitted a request for holiday weather, I was thinking of gentle white flakes of snow cascading to the earth in time to “The Little Drummer Boy.” And when those gentle flakes reached the earth, they would gather in a neat configuration on the grass and the dirt, politely avoiding the paved areas where they would get in the way of  walkers and drivers.

The fluff would then attach to bushes, tree limbs, fenceposts and rooftops like a frosted accessory, blanketing the landscape in a sparkling woolen coat. It would be so picturesque.

Apparently weather patterns cannot be compared to department store window dressing.

Mother Nature knows she’s the only one in control; she decided to be a rhymes-with-witch and send us her holiday potpourri. Too lazy to handcraft the appropriate holiday weather, she apparently went to Wal-Mart and grabbed some pre-mixed horror show in the bargain bin and tossed it overboard. Sort of the ultimate Chia-Pet gift from above.

In the past week we have had, in succession: light snow, heavy snow, more snow, rain, pouring rain, ice pellets, sleet, subzero temperatures and high winds. Then, more rain and melting followed by refreezing. This weekend we should be on the lookout for “thunder snow.”

On my last shopping sojourn, I traveled with a snow brush, a snow shovel and an umbrella. Our house’s eaves sprouted giant icicles that stretched nearly to the ground, threatening to tear the gutters from their mountings. And this formation of heavy and thick ice preceded a freak warm-up to 40 degrees that then melted the snow like butter in a microwave oven, but not the ice in our gutters, which then forced the liquid to seep between the walls of our house and trickle into our basement.

Thank you Mother Nature, thank you.

What? It’s not your fault we didn’t get our roof fixed? You warned us, you say?

What do you mean I could use the exercise and shoveling is a good cardio-vascular workout? I have a gym membership I don’t need you as a cardio coach!

What’s next? A hurricane of icicles? A tornado of snow? Fireballs plummeting from the sky?

I know you’re under a lot of pressure lately, what with so many threats to your well-being and all the bad media exposure. I suppose you think I’m asking too much to request a particular type of weather when you are inundated with such queries from around the globe. Perhaps I should back off and let you straighten out your disposition. 

Meanwhile, don’t look for me. I’ll be in my basement, wrapped in a blanket, under a tarp, wearing rubber boots and gloves. And I’ll be laughing because you are so funny.