Category Archives: Weather
If you’re in Kansas City today, I have two words for you: AIR CONDITIONING. And lots of it.
There is an excessive heat warning in effect for the Kansas City area, which extends south on Interstate 49 to the Arkansas state line, and then into Kansas and Oklahoma. There is a heat advisory as far west as Salina and far east as Columbia. Summer is here in case you didn’t know it. Yes, summer does not officially start until Wednesday, but it was here on Memorial Day, and it is now unleashing its fully fury.
The heat indicies they’re talking about in Kansas City today are common in Louisiana this time of year. Yes, I realize Kansas City gets hot and the humidity is worse than it is in Russell and points west, but this is oppressive. I hate to think how bad it gets in St. Louis.
It stormed again last night. I went to bed a few minutes after midnight, just when it was getting cranked up. It didn’t prevent me from falling asleep. I finally got up at 9–there was no reason to really get up early–and made my way to Buffalo Wild Wings for a Saturday of trivia. I’ll eventually cross Barry Road and go to Minsky’s, where I went for an hour and a half yesterday. I was looking to go back in the evening, but when I went at 7, the parking lot was completely full. So I went back to Buffalo Wild Wings and played more trivia with Robb and Dawn, leaving at 8:30.
I ate lunch with Peggy and Caitlyn yesterday at Yard House in the Legends shopping plaza, where the Kansas Speedway and Children’s Mercy Park, home of Sporting KC of Major League Soccer, are located. I really wanted to go for a steak or a big piece of fish, but I opted to just get the sashimi. Peggy paid, and I didn’t want to take advantage of her generosity. I hadn’t seen either of them since early May, and this was the first extended time I spent with them since the end of the basketball season in late February.
The U.S. Open gollf tournmaent is in the thrid round in Wisconsin. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all missed the cut. Jordan Spieth is well off the lead. Phil Mickelson didn’t even play, choosing to attend his daughter’s high school graduation in San Diego. Eldrick Woods? WHO CARES? Rickie Fowler is the biggest name in contention, trailing by one stroke at 8-under. He shot 71 yesterday after a 65 Thursday, which tied for the best opening round in U.S. Open history.
Johnson will not be able to repeat as U.S. Open champion. It hasn’t been done since Curtis Strange did it in 1988 and ’89. This is the second consecutive major in which the defending champion has missed the cut; it happened to Danny Willett at The Masters. Willett has basically fallen off the face of the earth since winning at Augusta National 14 months ago. Sergio Garcia made the cut, but he’s probably too far back to make a run.
People have complained about Erin Hills, the course hosting the tournament for the first time. Many do not like new courses thrown into the mix of the traditional sites, which include Oakmont, Winged Foot, Shinnecock Hills, Baltusrol, Pebble Beach, Congressional, Lower Merion and Bethpage Black. Those players may have a point.
The College World Series starts in one hour. Cal State Fullerton and Oregon State, which has won 21 consecutive games and is the top ranked team in every poll, as well as the #1 national seed, open the festivities in Omaha. Then it’s LSU and Florida State at 7. LSU is aiming for its seventh national championship and its second under Paul Mainieri, who led the Bayou Bengals to the title in 2009 at Rosenblatt Stadium, the penultimate year the CWS was played there. It moved to TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha in 2011. LSU has not fared well there, going 1-4 in two appearances, including an 0-2 trip (coloquially referred to as “Two and Barbecue” in college baseball lingo) in 2013 when LSU entered 57-9 and the #1 national seed.
I went to Omaha in 1998 and 2003. Great experiences, but I am not big on the crowds. I certainly do not want to be in the heat, and not in the general admission seats in the outfield, where if you leave your seat, you might as well leave the park, because someone will swipe it. General admission seating is a terrible idea for college and professional sports. TERRIBLE. The NCAA should outlaw that for the CWS and other Division I events.
LSU has won 15 consecutive games, and is 21-2 since I saw the series at Kentucky. Bill Franques, who is attending his 16th CWS as LSU’s baseball publicity director, told me as we departed April 23 he didn’t see LSU making it to Omaha, and he was worried LSU would have to travel for a REGIONAL. LSU has played in a regional away from Baton Rouge only once since 1990, in 2010 at UCLA, when it lost twice to UC Irvine. LSU did not make the NCAA tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
LSU’s prospects in a road super regional would have been very iffy, considering it is 1-6 all-time in super regionals away from Alex Box Stadium (old and new): 0-2 at Alabama in 1999, 1-2 at Tulane in 2001, and 0-2 at Rice in 2002. The 2002 super regional saw LSU get shut out in both games, the only time that’s happened.
The other bracket tomorrow has Louisville playing Texas A&M and Florida battling TCU. TCU beat LSU twice in the 2015 CWS. The Horned Frogs are in Omaha for the fourth consecutive year under former Tulane assistant Jim Schlossnagle, doing something LSU has never done. LSU made it three straight years from 1989-91 and again from 1996-98, but never four.
UGH. Some employee at Buffalo Wild Wings is playing nothing but horrendous hip-hop. I’m already getting nauseous.
I wish I could hit the reset button and start 2017 over. For the most part, it has been very, very bad.
Yes, Alabama lost to Clemson Monday in the college football national championship game. Other than that, and two trips to Norton, this year is off to a putrid start.
And it will get even worse this weekend, if that’s possible.
An epic ice storm, known as Winter Storm Jupiter if you’re a Weather Channel fanatic, is heading to Kansas. The worst ice, one inch or more, is expected between Hays and Junction City on I-70.
That includes Russell.
I hate sitting in my house in the middle of nowhere on a good day. On a day without power? I will be beyond miserable. BEYOND. FREAKING. MISERABLE.
Not to mention my CPAP machine won’t operate. I’m okay as far as writing since the battery for my iPad will be charged, but the sleep will be hard to come by. Yikes.
Kansas City looks good right now, but it might have the same problem. But I would be betting a hotel would not have the same problems as a rural residence.
I wish it were zero degrees Faherenheit right now. That way the precipitation would fall only as snow. Right now, I would take two feet of snow. At least the power would not go out.
This might be the most costly natural disaster in Kansas history. Forget the Topeka tornado of 1966. Forget Greensburg 2007. Forget Andover 1991. Forget Udall, Heston and Chapman, which all got smashed by tornadoes. This will be worse. Much worse.
St. Louis is hell to live in on a good day, but right now, I can only imagine. The ice has arrived in the Gateway City, and with all those elevated bridges across the Mississippi, I’m sure it’s fun out there. NOT.
The Chiefs and Steelers won’t play Sunday until 7:20 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 12:05, but this afternoon at 2, the NFL announced the game was moving to the evening. The ice storm is supposed to exit Kansas City late Sunday morning, and the later start gives MoDOT time to clear the roads leading into the stadium and the Chiefs time to clear the parking lots and seating areas.
It won’t be a problem getting back from Norton tonight. Tomorrow night might be the start of 72 hours of pure hell. The only thing which would be worse would be having a long power outage in the summer, but at least you could drive away immediately.
A little more than an hour ago, the earth moved over the heart of the United States.
A 5.6 earthquake was recorded near Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University. I saw several reports on Twitter a few minutes after the quake struck at 7:04 a.m. that people in Kansas felt it. I didn’t feel anything in the basement of the house in Russell. My mother was upstairs and said she heard it, but didn’t feel it.
There’s always been talk of a calamitous earthquake striking along the New Madrid fault, located along the Mississippi River between Memphis and St. Louis, but it’s never happened. There have been several quakes to hit Kansas and Oklahoma recently, but this is the strongest, measuring 5.6 on seismological scales.
Earlier this week marked the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The only good thing about hurricanes is you have time to get out of the way, and with forecasting becoming increasingly accurate, there is more time to get out and save yourself and as much as you can jam into your car.
Tornadoes are a lot less predictable, but with modern radar, there is enough time to get to a safe place, as long as you’re not in a car. It’s amazing the monster tornado in Greensburg in 2007 killed 12. If it had struck 10-15 years prior, the death toll would have been in triple digits. And how many more would have died in Alabama and/or Joplin in 2011?
Earthquakes? NO warning whatsoever. Just look at what happened during the Loma Prieta quake in October 1989. Over 60,000 fans jamming into Candlestick Park for game 3 of the World Series between the Athletics and Giants. Game is only a few minutes away, and then BOOM! Al Michaels and Tim McCarver were handling the pregame for ABC when it struck.
I doubt a severe quake would ever be center over northwest Kansas, but there could one day be a strong one (7.0 or greater) which could be felt and do some damage.
It’s the first Saturday of the college football season. As much as I like watching LSU, I’m glad I’m not in Baton Rouge anymore. Game days there were insane. About as bad as it gets in Kansas is traffic on Interstate 70 when Kansas State plays. You can always find a long line of cars streaming west between Topeka and the Manhattan exit. KU games? Not so much.
I haven’t posted anything in too long. I had something terrible happen to me the afternoon of August 10, about five hours after I arrived at home following my latest trip to Kansas City. The drive from Kansas City to Russell was smooth, but after that, my life descended into deep hell.
I cried almost all throughout my session with Crista the next day. My eyes were red as, ironically, I stopped in at Dr. Jones’ office to pick up my contact lenses and get a pair of reading glasses, because I’ve been having trouble seeing small print up close. The reading glasses have helped, but I still made an appointment for this coming Thursday, the 25th, to check out my prescription.
I went off my sleep machine for a couple of nights. I was going to go off my meds, too, but Dr. Custer kicked my tail a bit when I saw her the day after my appointment with Crista. I agreed for her to go back on my meds and sleep machine.
Now I have a problem with the sleep machine. Not the machine itself, but the mask. There are way too many straps to keep up with. I am seriously considering a full face mask. The nasal mask is nice, but I might feel better with a different one. My health insurance will pay for it.
I had another session with Crista this past Wednesday. Told her I’m scared about what might be coming, but she also told me that I needed to see Catilyn play her first match on the 30th. Norton’s home playing Hill City and Ellis, which is good for me, since I will get to see someone else I don’t see enough, Linda Nighswonger, who coaches the Ringnecks. I also need to see Peggy, obviously.
Dawn Amos’ birthday was last Sunday. I feel bad I couldn’t go to Kansas City to see her. I promised Robb I would come back soon, hopefully next week. I can’t go Thursday due to my appointments, but Tuesday is a possibility. I won’t be able to on Tuesdays until late October if I want to see Caitlyn play.
Speaking of birthdays, a very important one is next Friday. I’ll explain in an upcoming post.
I’ve been watching The O.C. way too much. Today is a very good day to be watching, as the man who gave us Sandy Cohen, Peter Gallagher, turns 61. He looks fabulous. Hard to believe yesterday marked the 27th anniversary of the nationwide premiere of Sex. Lies and Videotape, which starred Gallagher, Andie MacDowell, Laura San Giacomo and James Spader. The movie was shot in Baton Rouge in late 1988, a year after another film, Everybody’s All-American, was filmed in Louisiana’s capital.
Today, Baton Rouge is a real-life horror movie. Most of the city and surrounding area is reeling from devastating floods which have left 13 dead and tens of thousands homeless. It will go down as one of the worst non-hurricane natural disasters in Louisiana’s history.
Livingston Parish, east of Baton Rouge along Interstate 12, was hit much worse than the big city. Denham Springs, the largest community in Livingston, was swamped. Schools in Denham Springs won’t open until at least late September, and Denham Springs High may be closed until mid-October. I once covered a basketball game there. The hometown Yellow Jackets bombed Baton Rouge Catholic 85-59, shooting 60 percent from the field.
Another place I’m familiar with which was badly flooded was St. Amant, a tight-knit community in southeastern Ascension Parish, about 40 minutes south of where I used to live in Baton Rouge. I saw an aerial photo of St. Amant High, and it was completely underwater. The Pit, the football stadium at St. Amant Primary, fared no better. I spent many a Friday night at The Pit, including one where O. Perry Walker of New Orleans gained 707 yards and LOST. Twenty-one penalties for 182 yards and a defense which gave up 51 points will do that.
I am sick and tired of the Olympics. SICK AND TIRED. Come Monday morning, the world will be a better place. No more Olympics until the 2018 Winter Games, and no more summer crap until 2020. And hopefully Ryan Lochte and his pals will never be heard from again.
After watching Washington, Philadelphia and New York get buried under a mountain of snow last Saturday, it looks like it will be Kansas’ is next.
There have been dire predictions of a major snowstorm affecting the Sunflower State Monday and Tuesday, and it looks like the worst will be along the Interstate 70 corridor between Hays and Manhattan. Of course, Russell is in that corridor. There have been some models which forecast as much as two feet. TWO FEET.
I’m fearing not only that there will be a lot of snow, but there will also be a lot of wind, which would be beyond disastrous. The last thing I want is snowdrifts piled up like you see them at times during Buffalo Bills home games. However, it isn’t looking good.
Of course, the storm would hit during a week I have an appointment with Crista. If I missed that, it would really, really, really anger me. I just have to pray I-70 is clear by Thursday at 7 a.m. The appointment is at 9, but making sure it’s clear early would give me enough time to get there and back without having to rush.
I wanted to get out of Russell Thursday to stock up on a few supplies, but I couldn’t yank myself out of bed. I did make it over to Hays and picked up a few things. I saw more than three people carrying out cases of bottled water. I’m planning on a run to the big cities today, and possibly a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina on the way home.
It wasn’t until 10:30 yesterday evening that I realized it was the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. My old middle school pal Shawn O’Neil posted something about it on Facebook.
I was in the fourth grade at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic school on January 28, 1986. Someone came up to me during recess after lunch that the space shuttle exploded. I didn’t believe it. I thought this person was joking.
When I got back into the modular classroom behind the main school building, our teacher, Myra Annaloro, turned on the TV and we watched the coverage. President Reagan was scheduled to deliver the State of the Union that evening, but instead he gave a speech from the Oval Office about the six astronauts and Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire school teacher who was scheduled to teach video lessons from aboard the Challenger.
The Space Shuttle program was suspended for two and a half years. By time the next launch occurred in September 1988, I was in the seventh grade at Arabi Park Middle, less than a year from leaving for Brother Martin. When I heard the news of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s disintegration as it attempted to re-enter earth’s atmosphere in February 2003, it came as far less of a shock, given what I remembered about the Challenger.
The Challenger’s 1986 mission was barely mentioned by the networks and CNN–Fox News was more than 10 years away–until the night before the launch.
The big news of the weekend, and the week before, were the seemingly invincible Chicago Bears, who won Super Bowl XX less than 48 hours before the Challenger explosion.
The 1985 Bears won their first 12 games before losing in Miami to the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. After beating the Colts, Jets and Lions to close the regular season 15-1, Chicago shut out the Giants 21-0 and the Rams 24-0 to reach the Super Bowl for the first time.
Nobody gave the AFC champion New England Patriots any chance against the Bears. The Patriots were much improved from the team which lost 20-7 in Chicago in week two, and even though New England won road playoff games against the Jets, Raiders and Dolphins to get to the Super Bowl, the Patriots largely capitalized on opponents’ turnovers. New England recovered fumbled kickoffs for touchdowns vs. the Jets and Raiders, and the Dolphins turned it over six times.
The Patriots were largely an afterthought once the teams arrived in New Orleans. Most of the focus was on the Bears, specifically quarterback Jim McMahon, who was receiving treatment an acupuncturist to treat a strained muscle in his rear end. McMahon mooned a helicopter which was trying to spy on the Bears’ closed practice at the Saints’ facility.
McMahon was also at the center of a fabricated controversy.
The Thursday before the game, Buddy Diliberto, the sports director at WDSU, the NBC affiliate which would televise the Super Bowl throughout southeastern Louisiana, claimed McMahon had called New Orleans women “sluts”. It turned out the whole report was false, and Diliberto was suspended.
New England started the Super Bowl well enough, recovering a Walter Payton fumble on the game’s first play at the Chicago 19-yard line.
Then it all went south.
On the Patriots’ first offensive play, Tony Eason had tight end Lin Dawson wide open in the end zone. Eason’s pass was on target, but Dawson’s left knee gave way when his shoes got stuck in the Superdome’s notoriously hard artificial turf. Dawson had torn both his anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments.
On the third play, the Patriots’ star receiver, Stanley Morgan, was open on a post pattern, but Eason’s pass was batted away at the last second by Mike Singletary. New England settled for a Tony Franklin field goal.
That was the high point of Super Bowl XX for the Patriots.
By the end of the first quarter, the Bears were up 13-3. At halftime, the Patriots not only trailed 23-3, they had netted minus-19 yards of offense.
I said MINUS-19 yards. Holy crap.
Eason, who was drafted 15th overall by the Patriots in 1983 (instead of Dan Marino) was pulled in the second half for veteran Steve Grogan. The Kansas State alum fared no better, even though he led New England’s lone touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Chicago’s reserves, which included a rookie linebacker from California named Ron Rivera. Yes, that is the same Ron Rivera who will be coaching the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
New England finished with a Super Bowl record low 7 net yards rushing. Their 123 total yards were six more than the record low the Vikings recorded in Super Bowl IX vs. the Steelers at Tulane Stadium 11 years prior.
Final score: Bears 46, Patriots 10.
The 1985 Bears may be the best one-season team in NFL history. They do not deserve any more credit than that, simply because the second Super Bowl championship didn’t come in 1986, 1987 or 1988, and it still hasn’t come as the 2016 season is now a little more than seven months away.
McMahon was relatively healthy in 1985, the biggest reason why the Bears were able to win and win big. From 1975 through 1984, Walter Payton had performed heroically while playing behind one of the worst collection of quarterbacks any team could ever hope to assemble in a 10-year period. Other than McMahon, some of the quarterbacks who handed the ball to Payton included Bobby Douglass, Gary Huff, Bob Avellini, Vince Evans, Greg Landry, Steve Fuller and Mike Tomczak. Not exactly a Pro Bowl lineup. Landry was the best of the bunch, but that was in the early 1970s when he was with Detroit. By time he got to Chicago, he was decrepit, having taken savage beatings with the terrible Colts teams of the early 1980s and in the USFL.
McMahon got hurt often in 1986, and even though the Bears went 14-2, they were a one-dimensional offense which had to rely on the defense to keep the score down. The defense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain in the playoffs, and the Redskins won in Chicago 27-13. Washington won again in Chicago in 1987, and in 1988, the Bears were routed at home in the NFC championship game by the 49ers, even though it was 17 degrees with a wind chill of minus-17 at kickoff.
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Super Bowl XXX, the last time the Cowboys reigned as champions. Dallas was heavily favored against Pittsburgh, and it appeared the Cowboys would make it easy, leading 20-7 early in the second half. However, the Steelers rallied to within 20-17 and had the ball in the fourth quarter with the chance to tie or take the lead, but Neil O’Donnell threw the interception which clinched the game for the Cowboys. Larry Brown returned the pick to the Steelers’ 3, and Emmitt Smith cashed it in from there. Dallas won 27-17, but unlike its routs of Buffalo earlier in the decade, it had to earn this championship.
The only Super Bowl played on January 29 sucked. 49ers 49, Chargers 26. I’ll leave it at that.
I’m leaving Kansas City for Russell today as I had planned. However, my stay there might be shorter than I had originally planned.
Mother Nature is whipping up an intense winter storm which is forecast to arrive Saturday. I watched the KWCH weather report online a little bit ago, and it looked especially bad for Dodge City. One model has the worst in a large swath of western Kansas, with the eastern extent of the heaviest snow to US 281, which would be Great Bend, Russell, Osborne and Smith Center from south to north, then extending west to the US 83 corridor between Oberlin and Garden City. The second model was an east-west axis, with Hutchinson and Wichita getting slammed, but the snow extending to Hays and Russell at the north end.
Yikes. The last thing I want is to be marooned at home for a few days, possibly without power. Maybe I have to get out Christmas day and stay one more day. Right now, the plan was to go over to KC Saturday and stay until New Year’s Eve morning.
Kansas City might get snow, too, but if I’m not too far from services along I-29, it might not be so bad.
Right now, first things first. Like getting home.
I had two good days at Buffalo Wild Wings. Robb and Dawn Amos showed up yesterday and we had a great time. I saw Dana Tepenney, whom I had not seen in a long time, which was great. She came to check in on her fiance, Ronald Groves, who was working. Ron was one of the first people I met when I started going there, and I’m glad I did.
UPDATE: The National Weather Service in Dodge City is predicting blizzard conditions as almost certain along US 50 between Syracuse and Kinsley, which would also include Garden City and Dodge City, plus Lakin, Holcomb and Cimarron. US 50 isn’t a great road to drive on a good day. I can’t imagine what it would be like in that weather.
It has been one of those weeks. Nothing bad, just some unusual happenings.
I’m leaving my house in half an hour to go to Russell High School for the Russell Relays track and field meet, which gets underway at 3 p.m. The intense severe weather is not forecast to arrive until tomorrow, but Russell High is not taking any chances, opting to cancel preliminary heats in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and high hurdles, and scrub finals for five of the seven field events in order to move the meet along. This will be the last meet on the current track at Russell’s Shaffer Field; a new eight-lane track will be ready for 2016.
Tomorrow is supposed to be really nasty. Russell is on the eastern edge for a moderate risk of strong tornadoes. And I’m alone.
Yesterday was another one of those days. It started off innocently enough, with my 9 a.m. appointment in Hays with Crista Geyer. There were some painful things I brought up with her, but otherwise, it was another very productive session.
I dozed off and almost missed the 1 p.m. start time for Victoria’s track and field meet. I got there right at the starting time, and I stayed for two and a half hours. I had to run to Hays really quick after, then made the trip back to Russell for the Broncos’ baseball and softball games vs. Southeast of Saline. I started at softball, then left after the fourth for baseball.
The rain arrived at 5:40, just as the first game of the baseball doubleheader ended. It was a bad day for the hometown team; softball lost 13-2 in five innings, and baseball fell 2-1.
The second game of the softball doubleheader was canceled and will not be made up. Southeast wrapped up the North Central Activities Association championship in game one. The Trojans will likely have a bye in the first round of the Class 3A regional hosted by Beloit May 18-19. Russell is in that regional and likely will be seeded sixth or seventh (last).
The second game of the baseball doubleheader has to be played. Russell/Victoria can win the NCAA championship outright with a win, or Southeast can force a tie if it wins. That game will begin at 4:30 this afternoon. Russell/Victoria wanted to play the game later, but Southeast said no. The Trojans aren’t used to night games, since their field in Gypsum lacks lights.
My parents departed for New Orleans and their 10-day visit Wednesday morning just after 6. I got up way too early to see them off, and I paid the price. I dozed off three times in my office chair while I was working on articles for this week’s Russell County News. At 1:30, Elaine Mercer had to send me a Facebook message to get on the ball. I did. Thankfully she got on me about it.
I stayed up way too late watching Shark Tank reruns which I recorded. I almost missed my appointment with Crista. By time I woke up, it was 8:07. Fortunately for me, I can get ready quickly, and I will admit I took liberties with the speed limit. I made it from my garage door to the parking lot at High Plains Mental Health in 27 minutes.
Tuesday I was speeding along I-70 from the opposite direction. Elaine wanted me to go out to the Russell baseball and softball games vs. Beloit. Problem was, I was in Kansas City, and I was trying to wrap up my work for the week. I had so much track agate typing to do it ate up the clock. I didn’t leave the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs until 1:30, and even then, I had to go to the Chick-Fil-A on Barry Road just east of I-29 to use their Wi-Fi and get everything done. I didn’t leave Kansas City until 3:15, after I fueled the car and got snacks at the QuikTrip on Barry Road near Zona Rosa.
I only stopped for a frappucino at Starbucks in Junction City. I got back to Russell just after 6:30, and when I tuned in to the radio broadcast of the softball game, it was the bottom of the sixth of the second game. Even though the game was tied, it appeared the umpires were going to end the game after six innings and declare a tie if neither team scored. Sure enough, neither Beloit nor Russell scored.
However, the coaches prevailed upon the umpires to play the seventh. Good thing for me, because I got there just in time to take a few pictures in the bottom of the seventh. Better thing for Russell, which scored to win 4-3 and end an 11-game losing streak.
I went over to baseball and took some pictures, but due to the overcast and light rain falling, I had little to no light. I got what I could and went home.
Now I have to pray the house and I stay upright tomorrow. The weather looks much better starting Sunday.
Just a few minutes ago, I wondered if I had traveled back to 33 A.D.
That was the year Jesus Christ was crucified at Gologtha. The four Gospels describe the sky turning pitch black upon Jesus gasping his last breath.
It was pitch black outside Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa in Platte County, five miles south of Kansas City International Airport. The sky was fixing to open up and unleash its fury.
It did. It poured. There was some pea-sized hail mixed in. The wind was blowing hard out of the north. LIghtning flashed frequently. Fortunately, no tornadoes were forthcoming.
It isn’t the first time I’ve been marooned inside Buffalo Wild Wings during a heavy thunderstorm. It happeend on a Sunday in April 2014, only it was just after noon when it hit. That one got very bad, knocking out the DirecTV feeds to the restaurant for quite some time. The satellites went in and out tonight, but right now, they’re working, so patrons can watch the Bulls-Cavaliers NBA playoff game, and then Clippers-Rockets next.
I’m supposed to drive back to Russell tomorrow. The forecast is good for tomorrow, but then it turns ugly Wednesday. Great. I’m going to be alone at home since my parents are leaving for New Orleans. Of course, I’m far better off in a sturdy house than they’re going to be driving. I hope they miss it.
Since moving to Kansas, the third or fourth Friday of April has invariably found me in Osborne for the Kaser Relays. This was the very first track meet I covered for Main Street Media in 2006, and frankly, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t have nearly the camera equipment i do now, and while I knew what the event were, I had no clue where to position myself and what to look for.
Osborne’s meet is one of four I covered every year during my first nine seasons in Kansas. The others are the Russell Relays, which are in two weeks; the Mid-Continent League meet; and the state championships at Wichita. I did not cover a regional in 2013, and I didn’t begin covering the meets at Smith Center and Plainville until 2007.
Today, I had one eye on the events, but one eye on my iPhone.
The forecast since Sunday had called for severe weather today, and by time I arrived at Osborne at 2:20, it looked the sky was beginning to stir. The sun would poke out from the clouds, but mostly it was overcast.
I could feel the bad weather coming. It was unusually humid for western Kansas in late April. The dewpoint was 60 degrees, about 25 degrees above where it should be for this time of year. It wasn’t a question of if the rain was coming, but when.
Kenny Ubelaker, Osborne’s track coach from 2007 through 2014, joked with me that if it waited until 5 to rain, it would be fine with him, since he would be wrapped up with the boys javelin, the event he was managing. Rex Johnston, the public address announcer for the meet, said it would wait until 10 to rain.
When I checked the radar on my phone at 4, I knew Kenny would be right.
The weather to the southwest of Osborne was beginning to stir, and a line of thunderstorms was between Wakeeney and Hays. Twenty minutes later, it got much worse.
A tornado warning was issued for Ellis County. A tornado had been spotted just north of Interstate 70 and looked like it might scrape the northern portion of Hays. Fortunately, the twister did not touch down anywhere within the Hays city limits, but it slowly made its way east across US 183, just south of K-18.
Of course, Russell County is the next county east from Ellis.
Just after 4, I made the decision to leave the meet following the completion of preliminary heats in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and high hurdles. I was in communication with my supervisor, Frank Mercer, who was in Russell. He was supposed to cover the Broncos’ baseball and softball games vs. Ellis at Russell, but those were postponed to May 14 due to the forecast.
As the 4×800-meter relays were run, the skies began to darken, and I noticed the rain shield inching closer to Osborne on my phone. I figured it was a good time to leave and see if I could get to K-18 before the bad weather arrived.
Good plan, but Mother Nature had her own ideas.
About halfway between Osborne and Luray, where US 281 meets K-18 for an eight mile jog west, a tornado warning was issued for northern Russell County. Any further driving south would put me in harm’s way.
I turned around and headed north, back towards Osborne. Just past the city limits, I turned right onto a county road which I knew would take me east to K-181. I would then get on K-181 and head south towards Sylvan Grove.
I had forgotten just how many twists and turns K-181 has. It was a roller coaster ride up and down the hills, with a couple of very sharp curves, curves I wasn’t totally prepared for. I was going too fast, trying to outrun the storm.
I did outrun the storm. I got to I-70, and finally home, without a drop. Just as I pulled into my garage, it appeared as if it would rain hard in Russell, but it stopped almost right away.
It turns out the meet was suspended only minutes after I departed. It never restarted.
Until today, it had been seven years since I covered a meet which was called off early.
The 2008 Russell Relays were terminated following the completion of the field events due to ridiculously high wind, wind which gusting in excess of 60 miles per hour at times. Only three schools–Beloit, Concordia and Russell–wanted to continue the meet.
In 2012, the Beloit Relays were suspended for three hours by severe thunderstorms. That meet ended up resuming, but not completed until after 10 p.m. I left at 1 and went down to Wichita.
I’m beat. That’s all for now.
I thought I had escaped constantly rainy weather when I left Louisiana. I was wrong.
It poured in Kansas City early this morning. A heavy thunderstorm came through at 1:30 a.m., so strong it knocked out the power to the Courtyard for a minute. They are expecting 2 to 3 inches through tomorrow at noon. This is on top of the heavy rain last week, the rain which was going on when I left last Thursday.
Contrast that to western Kansas, where we’ve been in a drought since I moved there in September 2005. It has gotten so bad in Russell that the city council has enforced strict restrictions on usage on numerous occasions, banning the use of water on lawns and to wash cars. We have a well at 1224 North Brooks, so our lawn hasn’t suffered, and it’s made a lot of those around town angry. Then again, my grandfather isn’t going to leave any stone unturned, and he planned this when he built the house in the late 1970s.
It’s not unexpected areas of Kansas from the US 281 corridor, where Russell lies, and west are in a drought. It’s semi-arid to start with. I’ve seen a lot of brown on 281 from Russell to Smith Center, US 183 from Hays to Philipsburg, US 283 from WaKeeney to Norton and from WaKeeney to Dodge City, K-23 from Grainfield to Selden and then US 83 to Oberlin, K-25 from Colby to Atwood, and K-27 from Goodland to St. Francis.
Go further east on I-70, and you begin to see green. It seems 281 is the line of demarcation, because I don’t see nearly as much brown in places like Beloit, Mankato, Belleville, Washington and Salina. From Abilene east on I-70, it’s fine. Same with US 36 east of Washington.
The drought is even worse in southwest Kansas, where rain is scarce even in a good year. I’ll never forget going to Ulysses in 2010 for a Russell High softball game, and seeing just how brown all the fields were on Kansas Highway 25 from Lakin to Ulysses. Two years later, I took K-25 from Leoti to Lakin, and same thing, lots and lots of brown. It’s like that most of the time in Wichita, Kearny, Grant, Haskell, Seward, Stevens and Morton counties.
Here’s the kicker about Kansas City: there’s sharp contrast to rainfall in the metropolitan area itself. The areas north of the Missouri River, especially the areas in Platte County towards Kansas City International Airport, have been soaked in the recent rains. On the other hand, many areas in Johnson County, especially Olathe and areas to the south like De Soto and Spring Hill, are significantly short on rain for the year. Last week, most of the rain fell in Clay and Platte counties in Missouri, while far, far less fell south of I-70. There was a one inch burst in five minutes at the Kansas Speedway last Thursday, significantly cutting into practice time for the NASCAR races last weekend.
Because of all the rain expected, I’m not changing hotels. I thought about staying in Overland Park, but I don’t want to go back and forth–if I am going to Buffalo Wild Wings–and fight the slick roads. It’s enough of a challenge going the three miles between Tiffany Springs and Zona Rosa.
I’m driving to Brookville, about 20 miles south and west of Salina, for Smith Center’s football game tomorrow night. I don’t mind driving in the rain; I’ll just leave earlier. I don’t want it raining at kickoff.