Florida Water Spout

Waterspout off the causeway between Tampa and Clearwater, FL

My longtime bff, Sandie in Florida, sent me this picture that was taken by her coworker on the way home from work a couple of days ago.

It is a waterspout that formed in water off the causeway the person was driving on. The causeway is a man made piece of land that goes across the water body, put there so people could drive from one place to the other across the waterway instead of going all the way around.  So yeah, this person was driving home and oh look there’s a water spout!  A water spout is a tornado over the water, that sucks the water up into its swirlyness, making a water spout.  I know, I know, TOTALLY COOL, right?   Right!!  Unless you’re stuck in traffic on the causeway and it’s coming towards you.  Or it goes over the land and dumps a bunch of seawater on your building.

When I moved to California, a lot of people made comments to me about earthquakes, like “aren’t you afraid of earthquakes?” and “aren’t they scary” and “I don’t know how you could live there!”

Yes, big earthquakes are scary, or ones that are very close by. But for me personally they just don’t hold a candle in scariness to hurricanes and tornadoes, or to the kind of wrath of Zeus lightning storms that happened on a regular basis in Florida.

The waterspout photo, for example, is breathtaking and wondrous and cool, however it is also very ominous. Look at those dark clouds!  I am afraid of skylines that look like that, and you know why? Because I used to live in Florida, and there, skies like that were often followed very closely by thunder claps and lightning. Really, really, loud lightning!

The thunderstorms we had truly frightened me. I have seen lightning strike a house across the way, I have seen lightning strike the ground not too far away, and I was once caught in a little motorboat (the kind old guys take out fishing), in a sudden storm that interrupted a fine sunny day. When the lightning starting striking the water around us, I thought for sure my friend and I were going to die. I was terrified! But somehow we made it to shore quickly and found shelter from the storm – but that experience never left me, nor any of the other lightning stories I remember so well. I hated the lightning storms and I was so happy at the change when I moved from hot, humid, buggy, Florida to California, where it’s always sunny and beautiful and there are no fleas.

Desert Rainbow

A desert rain scene in beautiful southern California. Photo by Meilani MacDonald, meilanimacdonald.com

Now I live in the desert surrounded by mountains, and although we don’t get much rain, the mountains around us can get some nice seasonal storms. But I tell ya, watching lightning means a whole different thing to me now. Here, in awesome California, I can watch the pretty light storm that is over the mountains and not by me, and enjoy the beauty of it, risk free. Here, in awesome California, the lightning goes across the sky and looks pretty. It doesn’t go from the sky to the ground with a blinding light and thunderous clap that makes all your little hairs stand up.  Here, in the awesome California desert, the rain is beautiful and gentle and welcome. It is not a driving sheet of liquid pouring down your windshield, making getting to work risky to your life. It does not come with hurricane force winds and tornadoes that rip the roof off your house.  And yes, my friend Sandie did have the roof ripped off her house by a tornado one year. Her mother and child were in the house at the time, fortunately they were unharmed.

Personally, I’m not sure I could ever relax again after having my home’s roof ripped off by a tornado while I was there.  The fear of lightning that was instilled in me as a child and reinforced on a regular basis while I lived in Florida is with me to this day.  Not too long ago I went out to putter around in the back yard, as I like to do. The weather was weird. It felt like it used to feel in Florida before a storm.  Instinct took over, I immediately scanned the sky for potential lightning clouds and then scooped up my kitty and fast walked back to the house, to the safety of inside.

Well, safety so long as there’s no ball lighting forming inside your house. Yes, lightning can do that, it can come in your window and  form a little electric ball and bounce around. At least in Florida it can.

Anyway, time to end this long, rambling post.  I really just wanted to post that awesome water spout photo, and then I started tellin’ my stories again. Well, hopefully somebody out there enjoyed the photo and story 🙂