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Just how bad can the weather get?

By By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
June 6, 2003
I was pleased recently to learn that other people, some of whom are even well respected folks, are hooked on the Weather Channel as am I. A commercial during a break in a movie or the news doesn't have a chance when I have that remote control in my hand. I'll switch to the Weather Channel every time to see what it's going to be like outside for the next seven days here, and where the elk I will hunt this fall are growing their antlers and where the trout streams need replenishing and where the crappie will be in the bushes if the water rises and where the honeysuckle is putting on growth.
What I am looking for is rain. If it is raining where I am and at all my places of interest, I am happy. Rain means heavy beamed bull elk, a good trout hatch, crappie bedding in flooded grass and succulent honeysuckle for whitetail deer.
My addiction to watching the Weather Channel is rooted in my obsession with climate, especially what most folks see as "bad weather." To balance out human preferences, I was given leanings toward rain, wind, snow and ice. There are more of us around than is apparent. Look closely and you will see our relaxed, satisfied smiles when the storm siren sounds and it is raining cats and dogs.
And on days commonly referred to as "dreary" we are zipping around like bees gathering nectar while others mope. Maybe we have amphibians in our ancient ancestry, I don't know. But I simply adore rain. And what is a good hard rain without some lightning and thunder lots of thunder?
Saved sounds
I have recorded the sounds of severe thunderstorms near timberline in the Rockies with my little pocket tape recorder so I can play the tapes when I want to return to the wilderness in spirit or when I just want to feel at peace. The loud crashes of thunder call to mind blinding flashes of nearby lightning. And the deep, rolling rumble that follows becomes jumbled with its own echos from a hundred canyons, creating a steady roar a sound that speaks of power like no other.
The recorded sound of huge spattering raindrops on my parka make me shiver at the memory of the chill that always comes when I am still and quiet in a mountain rainstorm; huddled beneath a canopy of spruce or fir.
Our southern rains are more numerous, and the storms that spawn them can be dangerous; killers of both man and beast. It's the inevitable part of nature that comes with all the good. Such is the imposing power of many natural phenomenon, but weather storms take their toll with more fanfare than other natural dangers.
The storm's display announces the rain, that precious gift from heaven without which we perish. One of my favorite consequences of rain is that it washes out animal tracks and makes ready for a new interval of recording them. That buck crossed the trail last night, because his tracks are distinct and it rained last evening. These gobbler tracks can't be but two days old because it rained Tuesday.
Beneficial damage
High winds and lightning break off tree tops, and their scarred trunks decay and bring forth insects and cavities that feed and house many bird species. Rainwater freezes in the cracks of boulders and splits them open as surely as a jackhammer, forming more homes for tiny animals and birds.
When the big creek rises and washes over the sand bar and finally recedes, it leaves a clean shoreline of new sand on which visiting animals and birds write their diaries. I hasten to read their latest stories in the damp sand.
And snow goes the creek one better. It opens a clean, new page across the whole land where all creatures must record the stories of their wanderings. The buck doubles back in a J-shaped course to watch for trailing predators. The rabbit hops here and there until the wing marks and blood specks and tufts of fur in the snow tell its story of destiny feeding the hungry hawk.
Rain, snow, ice wind; they don't depress me. There is just too much that they give me.

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