CASARA Corner – July 2020

Another beautiful July evening!? Here I sit, at my computer, writing to the amazing natural show of lightning and thunder. It has been an extraordinary summer so far in Alberta with lots of moisture and unstable air. Apparently over the last 10 years we have averaged 14 tornados touching down per year but this year we have already exceeded that number and it’s only half way through the season. A good hint at the overwhelming power that ole Ma Nature is capable of wielding.

What follows is a true story; names have been added but not to protect any innocents, simply for anthropomorphic verisimilitude (not a perfect definition but I love the sound of those words):

“Hi! My name is Walter, Walter the water vapour. I’ve just been through a nightmare of an experience and just have to tell someone about it. It was a beautiful warm summer day and I was hangin’ with my peeps enjoying the scenery. The sun must have been pretty warm ‘cause the ground was heating up and radiating lots of energy and the air around me was getting pretty excited. Up and up I went getting cooler and cooler until suddenly I’m now Walter water droplet. With all the other water droplets condensing around me I can no longer see the ground and all of a sudden it’s getting warmer again. I’m still going up and there’s less pressure and now the higher I go the colder it gets. I keep banging into lots of other water droplets so we decide to coalesce into a larger group. Pretty soon we’re getting heavy and the “elevator” is slowing to a stop. Well, what goes up must come d.o..w…n…., Falling, falling getting warmer…starting to evaporate…HEY it’s me again, Walter water vapour. Whoa, going up again. CRACK, yikes what a noise and a blinding light, must have something to do with air whizzing up and down with truck loads of friction and static electricity. This turns into a roller coaster, up and down and up again, sometimes getting high enough to go right from a gas to a solid ice crystal. Then the scariest part started; caught an updraft and must have been doin 3000 feet per minute. Was coalesced with a large crew but first thing I knew we were whistling past ice crystals and smacked into one and froze solid. What a trip. Down and down again collecting water that freezes over top of me. Then back up at dizzying speed and around and around at speeds up to 6000 feet per minute!! I’m huge, easily the size of a small bird’s egg. Then, as quickly as it started I go flying out the top of the cloud and start falling to the ground in the clear sunny sky. Can’t believe how high I am, must be 40,000 feet. Falling….falling…CAR!….Smash!! Well I certainly left my mark on this trip (along with my many colleagues). Ah, the ground is so warm in the sun. Should finish melting soon and can go back to being Walter water vapour and who knows what will happen tomorrow.”


A “flight” of fancy perhaps, but with many of the elements of a thunderstorm. Don’t be too critical though or there may be a sequel with Derek the dust particle in “I Married a Tornado”


Of course the not too subtle message is be aware of weather near your route and remember to give Thunderstorms a wide berth (15 nautical miles should be okay). When we study weather we discuss apparent wind and sufficient theory to better understand what is behind a weather report, however, if a bullet is heading for you it is somewhat irrelevant whether you are moving toward the bullet or it is moving toward you, rather you need to know where it is in the first place and avoid being there.

Be weather wise and if you encounter unforeseen issues en route land and wait it out. Weather can spoil your day; just make sure you don’t allow it to spoil more than that, especially your love of flying. Love to fly and always fly with respect!