The ‘joys’ of living on the dry line…

The ‘dry line’ is the dividing line across the continent that separates moist air from an eastern body of water and dry desert air from the west. One of the most prominent examples of such a separation occurs in central North America, especially Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, where the moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meets dry air from the desert south-western states.

Yeah, that little dotted line above??? It goes from Marfa, Texas, right through us, and up into Kansas.

Earlier this week we had much ado with lightning, winds, and less than 1/4 inch of rain…

Yesterday they started predicting severe thunderstorms at noon! So it was mow the yard then, or wait a week and use a brush hog… Lots of fun in 92 degrees with 65% humidity… Sigh

The afternoon wasn’t bad, just cloudy, but then last night…

A couple of towns west and north of us have gotten 3-6 inches of rain in 2-3 hours. And golf ball sized hail was reported on I-44 just over the line in Oklahoma. And of course there are almost NO underpasses to hide under up there…

It is no wonder that if you read any history of the cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail, they talk about the horror stories in north Texas and Oklahoma of the thunder, lightning, and hail killing cows, horses, and occasionally the cowboys.

Here’s just one of the many quotes about it from “The Trail Drivers of Texas: Interesting Sketches of Early Cowboys” by J. Marvin Hunter

I gained experience on this trip in the stampede, high water, hailstorms, thunder and lightning which played on the horns of the cattle and on my horse’s ears. We suffered from cold and hunger and often slept on wet blankets and wore wet clothing for several days and nights at a time, but it was all in the game.

They were a hardy breed, to put it mildly…


The ‘joys’ of living on the dry line… — 15 Comments

  1. That set-up you show is also responsible for another path, which they call ‘Dixie Alley.’ It runs east from there and ends just about three feet from my house, which is in the foothills of the Appalachian range. At the tail end of the trail, counties get 20+ tornadoes per year.
    I believe the numbers of mobile homes draws them like magnets.

  2. And now that rain is here and likely to stay all day. I was going to be working the range today but with this rain, we’ll see.

  3. Is it all Al Gore’s fault? Too bad all that moisture couldn’t fall about 100 miles NNW of you where they have a persistent drought.

  4. Ugh. High heat and high humidity. One or the other is tolerable. Combined just sucks, and thank God and Willis Carrier for Air Conditioning. (Suck it, UN, for wanting to un-legislate world-wide use of a/c!)

    The city I live in is basically a large, hilly (for Florida) oak hammock and paved heat sink surrounded by swamp lands, so the blessed winds and rain that could cool us off tend to go around us. Which means you can leave the immediate surroundings and get water and blessed winds and cooler temperatures. But live here? Ugh. Steam bath from May to October, then Freezing Wet Air from November to April. Yay. Microclimates. They doth verily suck some days.

  5. I grew up in Austin. I made a habit of noting the best rooms at my friend’s houses to hide out in, in case of tornado.

  6. Pat- Yep, good point!

    Jim- It’s going to be ‘soggy’… at best…

    WSF- Agreed!

    Beans- Around Jacksonville by chance??? I lived that for 10 years… sigh

    JMI- LOL, true dat!!!

    • Gainesville. Unfortunately they are in the midst of trying to out-left Berkeley, and in some ways succeeding.

      I love the land, I love some of the people. But the leftist stank is unbearable. And I am in the same situation as so many people in California. Can’t afford to move.

      We have Payne’s Prairie here. Which used to be Payne’s Lake, until a sinkhole opened up and drained it. So, of course, everyone is really surprised when the prairie floods and swamps the SR that runs through it (fortunately I-75 was built 10′ higher, but still below the old lake level. Smart planning on someone’s part there.)

      Love the area because we actually have 4 seasons, maybe even 5, and it gets cold enough you actually have to wear socks with your sandals. And it gets cold enough to kill off most of the ornamental plants that were the bane of my allergy-filled childhood when I lived near Patrick AFB, south of Canaveral.

  7. I grew up around the bottom of the dotted line where the bottom twister is on the map. Lots of going to the storm cellar when I was a kid in the good old days. Also, the wheat is coming in, where there was enough rain and one good hail storm in a half hour can ruin a good years wheat harvest.

  8. OldTex- Yep, very true. We had maybe 5-10 minutes of dime sized hail, then rains. Got a little over a inch and a quarter last night.

  9. We had a cell form on top of the house, my hand to Bog, and got .60″ in 20 minutes at 2300 last night. Sounded like pea hail as well, but there was too much rain for me to tell. The Usual Places floated cars (I-40 and Soncey, I-40 and Olson).

    The tornadic stuff begins on top of or just east of us and then eats Oklahoma. We wave as it goes overhead.

  10. My Dad was from northeast Texas, just a little west of the green arrow on your first map. He had a saying for sounds like the music I liked as a teen in the ’70s, and other intolerable (to him) racket. He’d say, “That sounds like a dyin’ calf in a hailstorm.” I reckon he knew whereof he spoke; he’d also worked out in the oilfields west of DFW.
    We get tornadoes here in TN, but with nowhere near the frequency or intensity of y’all’s.

  11. That’s why glider pilots flock to Marfa. The ‘Marfa front’ is represented as a chain of orange Ds when shown on aviation charts.

  12. I’ve got a great uncle buried in Johnson Station Cemetery that was killed by lightning out near Childress. Nearly 100 years ago.

    That Texas dry line spawned the Lubbock tornado in 1970. It was letting down over our house, and then swept through NE Lubbock. Dr. Fujita studied it and it was the prototype F5 tornado.

    We built a cellar out of concrete blocks he got from destroyed gas stations. I cleaned those things for months after school until we had enough to do the job. I don’t remember how many nights I spent in there listening to thunder and rain.

    If you don’t have a ‘fraidy hole, you should seriously consider putting one in. Double T high school has done some serious research on those.

    • The same people that make those big-arsed box culverts for storm drains also make all the components to turn them into… Storm Shelters. Seriously. Two large box culverts (the ones with interior height of 6′ or more) joined together, with a solid concrete wall on one end, and another slab-wall with door on the other, all waterproofed and with vent holes, makes a mighty-fine relatively instant shelter, above ground, bermed or not, or partially or fully buried.

      I don’t understand people in Tornado Alley who have no shelters. Says the guy living in Florida (but at least hurricanes give you a day’s notice, usually, of their intent to keeeeel you.)