Once upon a time — oh, okay, it was last month — I fused an old adage with a Woody Allen quip: "March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lion, but not the same lion." Most weather proverbs are pretty useless here in Soonerland anyway: you can follow the best possible advice, or the worst, and the results will be just about the same.

When I left the shop yesterday afternoon, the day had been dampish at intervals: the OKC East Mesonet station, not so far from my eastside workplace, had recorded 0.65 inch of rain for the day. One of the hardier souls on staff, whose commute runs 45 minutes on the best day he ever had, concluded that this was not anywhere near the best day, and fled the premises about 15 minutes early. The skies were bad sci-fi dark and becoming more so. However, the actual downpour didn't begin until I started my own departure sequence, and it was just this side of Biblical: it wouldn't have taken forty days to flood the earth at that rate. Visibility had dropped below two miles, said the Weather Guys, but they're looking into the skies: horizontally, you were lucky to see three-fifths of a car length, and not the length of a late-Fifties Buick, either.

On good days, I have misgivings about Interstate 35 between 40 and 44, and this day failing to meet the minimum standards for "good," I decided to take surface streets for a while. So did everyone else, and the rain kept coming down, harder and harder. Martin Luther King Avenue was Mud City south of NE 36th Street, and with forward vision becoming worse with every moment, I gave up and pulled into a small C-store near 26th and waited for the rain, and the odd chunks of hail, to give it up already.

It took about ten minutes for a moment of surcease, and about five minutes for a hole to open up on MLK. Muddy water was kicking up to the door handles of cars and trucks. And I noticed with dismay that my brakes didn't seem quite as, well, brakey as I might have hoped. I tried some of the time-honored methods to dry them out, with indifferent results. I turned off MLK at 63rd, and was going to try the climb to Interstate 44, but it didn't look promising. And 63rd westbound is usually not terrible until you pass the Broadway Distention and have to face Chesapeake Energy traffic. Besides, they're working on Broadway, as they have been since the French and Indian War, and I decided I didn't want any part of that.

At Kelley, one mile west of MLK, I opted to try my luck with 44. Shorter approach, which is good; onramp goes directly to the Lincoln off-ramp, which is not so good. I managed to find a spot in the center lane, but there was no getting past the left-lane crowd, and that's where my exit was. So I proceeded across the Belle Isle Bridge, which could only be worse if the Fahrenheit temperature had been 26 instead of 56. (It had been pushing 76 a couple of hours before.) I exited at Pennsylvania and navigated the maze of residential streets, hitting my driveway a mere 49 minutes after I'd left.

I did, of course, try to put up a front:

But don't be fooled. I was scared spitless. Not that the ground needed as moisture from me: Mesonet was closing in on two inches when I got home, which translated to about an inch and a half of rain per hour. It's not the worst storm I've ever been caught in, but it was right up there with the scariest. And it occurred to me that if you're in the middle of one of these things, "Turn around, don't drown" becomes hilarious: where the hell can you turn around and have it make any difference?

The Vent

  1 May 2019

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