Postcards from Tradocia

when it rains, it pours

I was going to see a friend of mine tonight, but I rather unwisely set out on an evening when the National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning for central Minnesota. Sure, I figured, it had been raining hard, but it didn’t look too bad outside my door – and besides, it was dying down. No problem.

I didn’t get much more than a mile from the house when I was driving fifteen miles per hour into a blinding blizzard of rain, carefully negotiating the low spots in the road which were rapidly filling with rainwater. Luckily I had a cautious driver in front of me who, I hoped, would bog down before I would, giving me a little warning before I became stuck myself.

At the intersection just before the highway entrance, I looked to my left and the opposing lane looked like a furious river; much to my chagrin, the intersection looked much the same, as it sloped down and away to my right. Gingerly I eased the Eltreum across the perpendicular flow, only to stop on the entrance ramp, where I could see several vehicles stopped ahead with their hazard lights flashing through the rain. I wondered why they were stopped, but it was obvious after a moment’s observation: one of the cars was submerged wheel-deep in water at a dip in the ramp. No way I could traverse that area; I had to turn around, but reversing into the intersection was not an option.

Engaging my own four-way flashers, I jumped out of the car and inspected the median. It was smooth grass, and luckily the curb was gently sloped instead of a solid concrete block. I jumped back in and spun the wheel left, giving the accelerator a good push. Human Transport Ark Eltreum did its best Humvee impression (a quick prayer flitted through my mind: “Spirit of the HMMWV, lend me some of your ground clearance now!”) and cleared the median, but the street was all but impassable beyond the intersection. I turned into the Target parking lot – it being high ground and thus free from flooding – and assessed the situation. I decided to go into the store and look around and see if I could wait out the storm.

The rain howled on the roof of the building while I shopped, auguring poorly for any respite from the downpour. After spending as long as I could stomach in the empty store, I returned to the Eltreum and chewed on a candy bar. If anything, the storm was worse – windshield wipers or not, I could barely see. I waited for a minor slackening and moved out again along an alternate route, deciding to take a longer but presumably safer way back to the house.

Along the way, a streak of lightning blasted to earth maybe a hundred yards from my car – the radio just went silent for ten seconds or so, so ferocious was the ionization in the air, and for a moment I was afraid it was close enough to knock out the electronics in the vehicle. But everything was still lit and running inside my rolling Faraday cage, so I proceeded through the deep water back onto the interstate, leaving a car-height rooster tail on either side as I passed.

Ultimately, I ended up back at the house without incident, though I did have to take a lengthy detour due to a flooded road that the fire department had blocked. It was an oddly frightening and exhilirating experience – not because of any actual danger but because I had to face it alone. I didn’t have a battle buddy, or a TC, or a gunner, or anyone else – it was me (and the Eltreum) against the elements.

4 Comments

  1. GreatScott

    I hate flooding.

    Last year about this time, I was supposed to go to a church function for new congregational leaders on a Saturday morning about a half hour from my house. Like you, I’d heard something about flooding, but didn’t really realize what it meant until I saw it.

    I got about 15 minutes east of where I live, driving down the left lane of a 3-lane highway when traffic started to crawl. I took a moment to look around and the water in the westbound lanes was nearly up to the top of the concrete Jersey barriers (K rails). The water that was being let through down at their bases was jetting out and hammering my car as I passed it by. The road up ahead was under feet of water. Numerous people were stopped with flashers going.

    Choosing discretion, I made a right across 3 lanes of traffic onto the nearest side street and hightailed it for breakfast. :)

    Note to future self: never drive through deep water. Further note: keep reminding yourself of this because you’ll forget, dummy. :)

  2. G&G

    WOW. BRYCE WAS JUST DOWN IN THE BASEMENT SUCKING UP THE WATER. WHAT A WAY TO SPEND HIS BIRTHDAY. HE’S FINISHE NOW, SO I’LL TAHE HIM OUT TO LUNCH

  3. sec

    Check out this picture of River Road, just behind Elliot Hall: http://www1.umn.edu/pts/hottopics.htm

  4. Holly Aho

    I didn’t realize you were from Minnesota! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and must have missed that.

    Well, I just wanted to say hi from another milblogger in Minnesota :)

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