It was Sunday night December 14th 2008 and my TV shows had finished for the year. I walked over to my crappy computer to check up on the weather, a common practice of mine. I knew there was a powerful storm that would bring about an abrubt change in the weather and that my buddies in Minnesota were enjoying a raging blizzard. Checking the surface obs it was clear the sharp frontal boundary was in central Illinois. Midway's METAR read 57 over 44 whereas Dekalbs read 36 over 30.
Craving some sort of experience I decided to grab a few cans of my favorite cheap brew and park my rear end on the front porch. I snapped open the first can and listened to the wind, it was really talking tonight. The thermometer on the porch was wobbling between 55 and 60 and the flag was jutting out to the north as winds were still strong out of the south. I marveled at the fact these powerfull winds were screaming north to circulate around a massive low pressure system. Only to circulate back several hours later. Even though a thousands mile away, every inch of earth from here to there is being affected by the same system.
I sat there only in a long sleeve t-shirt yet I was comfortable. The chair having been outside was a bit wet, but nothing my jeans couldn't handle. I began to sip away at my first tallboy and continued to sit and patiently await the arrival of the front. About 20 minutes went by when all of a sudden I heard a load roar, the wind had been howling all night but this gust wanted to be heard above the rest. A small leafless branch breaks off my neighbors tree and falls to the ground. I think to myself "That was pretty neat, probably a good 45mph gust." I then realize my tallboy has come to an end so I go inside to reload. Picture of the tree branch (I took it a couple hours after it actually fell.)
Upon returning to my throne I heard a tapping sound on the awning above me. Rain. Looking around at my neighborhood and seeing Christmas decorations, rain hardly seemed fitting but alas, it began to fall steadily. About 15 minutes later I see a bright flash in the sky. My heart skips half a beat and I think "LIGHTNING!" I then waited for the sweet sweet sound of thunder, which is music to my ears. As I gazed in the general direction of the flash, waiting for the thunder, I see another flash. This flash was green, and it persisted for about 4 seconds. It was a powerflash. Then the neighborhood goes dark. I jump off the seat and walk infront of my house to see if I can see better....another green flash...followed by a bright orange flash. I stand there waiting for more and wishing I had my camera on me. My neighbor opens her front door after a minute and asks if she should call 911 just as the street lights come back on. I tell her I think everything will be ok and go back to my seat. I send fellow chaser Danny Neal a text message about it, just in case he knew something.
My second can is gone, time for number 3. Its about 90 minutes later now. Rain has become on and off. Suddenly I look at the flag and its now pointing to the right. Westerlies have arrived. Thermometer still at around 55. I sit and wait...I get my first chill of the night after about 20 minutes. I look up. Under 50 now. Temps had begun to fall. I decided to go inside for a little bit, I was actually feeling a bit cold now. Can #4 tasted the best of them all and I went back outside about 30 minutes later. I sat down briefly when I started to hear a crackling sound. It was pretty cold now with the thermometer near 30.
I looked at the flag to see its movement but it wasn't moving. It was frozen solid. Freezing rain was now coating the world around me, producing the crackling sound most commonly heard in bowl of cereal.
The crackles got louder and I noticed little white things bouncing all over the place. Sleet. It began falling hard so I decided to walk around and take some pictures. A neighbor across the street pokes their head through the curtains. Probably wondering what the crazy guy getting blasted with sleet is doing taking pictures of the ground. Sleet was falling heavily and began accumulating over the sheet of ice. What a slippery mix but I did not fall. I was amazed by the sleet, afterall it is as close as Im going to get to hail in the wintertime. Ive never really seen sleet accumulate so much but then again, I never purposely put myself in that position. I sat and listened to the crackling sound some more. I dragged my girlfriend and my dad to the front door to show them. Though they didnt really care. it was now 130am and the only thing they cared about was TV and sleep. Which is where my mind should have been seeing as how work is a mere 5 hours in my future.
Thats not how it works though, when your obsessed with the weather you will wait....and wait....and wait.... The funny thing is, Im not a patient person, yet show infinite amounts of it to mother nature. Satisfied with the experience I returned into the 70 degree warmth of the house. Dramatically experiencing two different seasons in a matter of hours was neat to me. Perhaps winter can offer some neat weather experiences afterall. Time for bed now, the commute is going to suck tomorrow. Spring, hurry up and get here.
Pictures and video of the sleet over ice.
I wish I would have got the idea to do a "story" sooner, I would have taken better pictures and video. Oh well, thanks for reading.