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Archive for July 14th, 2012

I enjoy riding my bike to and from work, so in my world, it’s always best when the early morning hours (4:00-7:00am) are dry.  The same holds true for the ride home (2:00pm-5:00pm).  It doesn’t actually take me three hours to make each ride.  In fact, 45-50 minutes is usually enough.  It’s just that, for the trails to be mostly dry, rain needs to stop about two hours before I ride.

Of late, however, central Iowa has been starved for rain.  We had rain on Friday, but it amounted to a measly two-tenths of an inch.  Other than that, we’ve had no serious rainfall in nearly a month.  And our exceptionally mild winter and spring meant less rain as well.  So while us cyclists have been living it up, farmers are starting to worry.  We drove an hour north earlier today and visited my folks and grandmother.  When we left, it was raining in sheets and the storm was heading straight south.  We raced home to close windows, only to have the storms fizzle to nothing.

So I continue to put water on the lawn every couple of days (and water is really expensive here) and pray for rain in the meantime.  Even if it meant I couldn’t ride my bike to work a morning or two, I’d welcome the precipitation.  Two or three days of steady rain would simply be awesome…even a one- or two-inch deluge would be better than nothing.

Speaking of that, Montreal knows a thing about deluges.

On July 14, 1987, the residents of the Island of Montreal awoke to weather more typical of Iowa.  Warm, moist air and hazy sunshine promised yet another in a string of unseasonably hot and humid days.  But as us midwesterners know all too well, high heat and high humidity are two key ingredients needed to spawn thunderstorms.  The other is some form of “destabilizer”, which usually takes the form of cooler air above.  Since heat rises, it displaces the cooler air, causing the turbulence necessary to roughen the weather up a bit.

Or, in the case of Montreal that day, roughen it up quite a bit.  Starting around lunchtime, a series of four severe thunderstorms made their way across the area.  And by the time the mid-afternoon doldrums hit at 3:00pm, the storms were over.  But in their wake…

In the two hours the storms trained across Montreal, they dumped nearly four inches of rain, with some areas reporting higher amounts.  The sewer system, which wasn’t designed to handle these kinds of downpours, was overwhelmed.  In addition, widespread power outages from lightning strikes took down the sewer pumping systems.

Flooding became a serious problem, particularly for lower lying roads.  Thousands of people became stranded in their cars, as the waters quickly rose. The Décarie Expressway (shown above) became a car-clogged river, with motorists scrambling for rescue as the waters inundated their vehicles.

I have the distinct feeling that, had I been in Montreal at the time, even the two-hour gap between the storms and my commute wouldn’t have allowed me to ride my bike home.  Of course, one of my co-workers has a boat…

Send some of that rain our way!!

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