Monday, May 14, 2012

Underground, Under Hail

Today we were in a slight risk for most of the immediate area (Roswell, NM).  There was a 2% chance for tornadoes, 15% for hail, and 15% for wind.  Storms were not expected to begin until the afternoon, so we went south to Carlsbad Caverns to occupy the morning.
The area leading up to the park was breathtaking and huge.  The caverns were over 700 feet below the surface and it took about a minute to get down to the caverns in the elevators.  The caverns were most active during the last Ice Age when New Mexico was a rainforest.  The walk around the caverns was about 2 miles long.  We saw many types of rock formations including stalagmites, stalactites, a 'bottomless pit', soda straws, and gypsum rocks.  Many were formed from hydrogen sulfide and are still growing to this day.  It takes about 8 minutes for rain water to get from the surface into the caverns, but New Mexico is not know for its heavy rainfall.

On our way out of the national park, we passed a tarantula on the road.  However, it was not a tarantula for long.  Just seconds after this picture was taken, its life was tragically ended due to homicide by car.  This caused a rather long stretch of screaming/squealing/'poor thing' from most of the girls.

After we left the park,  we headed north again to see if we could catch some storms.  Since it was still early, we stopped at a park so we could wait to see where we would need to go.  The boys played some weird golf game, trying to get the ball as close to possible to two of the trashcans in the area.  Dr. Brown won, but at the expense of many golf balls.  Once we saw a severe thunderstorm warning come up, it was time to leave!

We headed to an area west of Roswell.  We stopped on the side of the highway so we could see the storm form as it came over the mountains.  We could see the updrafts and a shelf cloud developing and the area dividing the rain and hail.  Then the rain-cooled air began to develop a roll cloud.  Renny got a timelapse of the storm (below) before we left.

Once it started raining there, we left in search of a better angle.  We pulled off on a road that led to the Roswell Correctional Facility a little farther south.  There we had a great view of the self cloud approaching and the lighting.  Dr. Brown got an awesome timelapse of the shelf cloud as it approached (below).

We wanted to get to see some hail today, so we left to try to get to an area where we could experience some!  We ended up farther south, closer to Artesia.  The storm we were chasing had hail markers of 1.5", so we were very hopeful about seeing some hail- and we did!  It was not quite 1.5", but it was still bigger than anything we'd seen so far, mostly near quarter size, and accumulated rather quickly.  We were parked in front of a house and we could see the hail build on their roof, lawn, and driveway.  The road and field across the street were also covered in hail!

The possible highlight of our day was Toto! As the hail began to fall, Barrett happened to see a small dog moving through the storm and getting hit by hail right before it took shelter under our van. We were very concerned about the dog because of the heavy rail, hail, and high winds.  As soon as the hail stopped, Barrett hopped out of the van and got him to come out from under the van.  He took the dog (who we named Toto) up to the house we were parked in front of, but they said the dog did not belong to them and they didn't recognize him so Barrett brought him back to the van to get out of the rain and cold.  Toto was so wet and cold!  We tried to dry him off with some paper towels, but he was shivering so badly!  We ended up zipping him up in Jessica's jacket to try to warm him up.  We drove in the direction Toto had come from and pulled into a house.  Barrett and Jessica took Toto up and talked to the people who lived there.  They did not know Toto either, but they offered to take him and ask the neighbors and take him to the local vet if no one claimed him since we were not from the area.  We were very sad we could not keep him as our mascot, but hopefully they can help find his family!

No comments:

Post a Comment