I wandered the tundra, my ears to the sky, chasing thunder…


I have always adored thunderstorms.

I live in a high desert valley in the state of Utah. We get some really good thunder, loud crackling, popping stuff, the kind that wakes you in the night. But it doesn’t rain too often or too much here, not like the mid-western portion of the United States, where I once found myself in the most terrify storm I had ever seen.


We were driving home from a trip to visit friends in Wisconsin. It was close to 7 P.M, a cool summer night, and weather reports called for heavy rains. Travelers were advised to pull over and seek shelter. Not wanting to get stuck on the Interstate in those conditions, we found a suitable room in the town of Ogallala, Nebraska to hunker down for the night.

Other travelers were thinking the same thing, and the motel was bustling with people. Dozens of kids swam in the pool, parents laughed, scolded, and looking at the pale evening sky, I thought we may have misjudged the severity of the situation.

We retired to our room to watch some television and relax from the long day of driving. Soon after, I heard the wind. It rose up suddenly, a howling, eerie sound that whipped through the buildings of the motel. The lights flickered. The television lost signal. Curious, my wife and I went outside and stood, gazing out in amazement.

It was just after 8 P.M, but the world was midnight black. Never had I witnessed the sky become so dark, so quickly. Sudden flashes of lighting lit up the landscape with tiny electric explosions, through which I could see the approaching rain. Oh, the rain. Deafening sheets of it started to fall on the aluminum roof of the hotel patio. If I had dared walk out into it, I might be pressed to the ground by the weight of the water.

And the thunder. I had never heard any sky make so much noise. Only an act of will kept me from covering my ears, like a startled child, with each rumble. It was astounding, humbling. Though we were relatively safe and dry under the awning, I felt exposed, thrilled and exhilarated. The storm lasted almost an hour, and we stood watching most of it. I admit, I worried about tornadoes all night and didn’t sleep much.

That night remains a favorite memory.

A favorite image of a Utah storm from last spring. 




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About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

8 responses to “Thunder”

  1. Yolanda Renee says :

    My husband and I also love thunderstorms. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything close to the storm you’re describing, even during a tornado scare in Arkansas. And here in PA we had a 90ft tree taken out during the high winds from the remnants of a hurricane. The worst was the fear that the trees would come down on the house during the dead of night. We could hear the storm but couldn’t see a thing.
    It so much more fun when you can appreciate them via sight!

    • fenster says :

      That fear, the trees coming down in the dead of night, is a terrible one. hard to sleep when each gust sounds like a cracking trunk. You can’t help but anticipate the inevitable crash.

  2. cleemckenzie says :

    There’s something in a storm that brings me to life, too. I’m awed by the power of it. I was in a typhoon once in Asia, and I was more than awed by that. I think I wound up under the bed–a lot of good that would do.
    Beautiful images.

  3. Liesbet says :

    Those are some serious dark skies, Ryan. Awesome and intense. I love watching storms as well, from behind “safety” glass. On the boat, I was still intrigued by storms and humbled by the elements, but the danger lay in getting hit by lightning and losing all of our electronics, which was a common occurrence in Panama, where 50% of all sailboats get hit by lightning over the summer. We were very lucky to just see fireballs from lightning in the distance! But, I swear, one night the lightning was so frequent, you could read a book by it.

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    • fenster says :

      I imagine you’ve seen plenty of powerful storms in your travels. Utah storms can be violent, but rarely are they dangerous. I would think any storm on the ocean had deadly potential.

  4. Michelle Wallace says :

    Those are scary-looking, dark grey clouds.
    I’ve experienced an intense storm, but we don’t get hurricanes/typhoons/whirlwinds/tornados and other natural disasters on my end of the globe. Touch wood.
    Writer In Transit

    • fenster says :

      I choose to live in a place where weather is rarely dangerous. Oddly enough, I live right near a fault line that is overdue for a shaking. Funny the things we can ignore.

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