Kansas weather is always an adventure. I have lived here all of my life and I have never been able to figure out what it will do next. Weather forecasters struggle with the same problem, they constantly have to revise their predictions.
The weather in our state seems to have a strong dislike for any type of outdoor activity. It rains on parades, outdoor weddings, campouts, festivals, just about anything that people are looking forward to doing outside.
When I lived in Wichita, the River Festival was a week-long party the entire city looked forward to each year. But without fail, the Kansas monsoon season would move in and rain out many of the events.
The festival was held at the same time each year. Festival officials once tried to sidestep the rain by moving the festival back a week. It was a sensible plan, historically, that week had always had fair weather. But the rain also changed its schedule and moved in with vengeance. I think it was angry at the city for changing the date. The river overflowed its banks and most of the events that year had to be canceled.
Ironically, the original date for the festival, the one that was rained out every year, had perfect weather. The festival was moved back to the original date the next year, and of course the rain also attended. It came as no surprise to anyone that the week after, as usual, was sunny and dry. Here in Kansas, try as you might, you can’t beat the system.
In the early part of summer, we received an abundance of rain. Recently, the rain backed off and the days to follow were sunny and unbearably hot.
But when it was time for the county fair, the weather cooled down and attacked Winfield with all the force it could muster. It tore down trees, powerlines, and was especially cruel to the fairgrounds. It scattered the vendors merchandise all over the place, destroyed the Ferris wheel, and mangled several camping vehicles. It’s a miracle no one was hurt.
But native Kansans are a hardy and determined bunch. We don’t let things get us down for very long. We always rise up, work together and fight back. A group of hardworking and dedicated volunteers had the fair back up and running the next night, with the exception of the Ferris wheel. Other workers continue to put in long hours to restore the city electric service and clean up tree limbs.
My family and I are making plans to go on a short vacation. We have reserved our favorite campsite and are looking forward to spending a long weekend together in our camper.
On our last camping trip, a very intense storm passed through that area. The rain came down in a torrent, and we were buffeted by powerful winds. Riding out a severe storm inside of a camper is a frightening experience. We had been warned in advance that we were under a severe thunderstorm watch and had been keeping a close watch the radar. But there were no warning sirens in that small community, and no storm shelters in the RV park. We had nowhere else to go. We didn’t know whether the city had any shelters open to the public and no one was around to ask.
Our camper is small and very heavy. But the wind and rain gave it a severe beating. There isn’t much in the way of stabilization to keep it from turning over. We have been through storms before, but never one that intense.
Thankfully, we came through it unscathed with no noticeable damage. It did mess up my birthday celebration. We postponed those activities until the next day.
After that experience, and then seeing the damage at the fairgrounds, we will be better prepared for bad weather on our next camping trip. If the wind can overturn a Ferris wheel and the semi attached to it, it could roll our little camper across the campground. We plan to stop by the city office and find out about community storm shelters.
According to advance weather predictions, no bad weather is expected in that area.. But fair weather was also forecast for our last visit. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that we found ourselves under a severe thunderstorm watch that turned into a warning 30 minutes later. If another intense storm comes our way, we won’t wait until the last minute to seek shelter. The camp host told us later that the camp’s restroom would be the strongest and safest place to ride out a storm.
On this trip we will have flashlights with fresh batteries in case the power goes out. We also have tarps to protect the items that we leave outside, food that doesn’t have to be refrigerated or cooked, and plenty of bottled water.
All of those preparations should guarantee our safety. Past experience has taught me that the more money I spend to prepare for a threatening situation, the less likely it is to happen. It’s all part of what I fondly call Shelman’s law.