I gotta tell you: I’ve seen some weird things in my day not the least of which was freakishly strange weather. How weather-strange was this?
A 1960s rain befuddler
Well, for starters – meaning witnessing my first freakish weather occurrence – when this happened, I had to be in my teens. I happened to be standing on one side of a busy Baltimore street, rain clouds were looming overhead and at the same time the sun was shining. That street, Reisterstown Road, near where it meets the Northern Parkway, was being rained upon. That was not what caused me to be so taken aback.
I was put off by the fact that the rain was landing on one side of the street but not the other, that is, until that side too got wet. It was like nothing I had ever seen before and most probably will never see again.
Didn’t see that coming!
It was in the early 1980s during the winter. The day was cold, the sky clouded over. I was on my way from my home in Fresno to the San Francisco Bay Area town of Mountain View located approximately 175 miles to the northwest. As I was driving my car and ascending the east side of Pacheco Pass, the air outside my vehicle grew colder and wetter. Before too long on my auto’s outside antenna, ice began building up. The higher in elevation the car climbed, the more ice buildup there was.
As this was going on, in no time, it seemed, the antenna was whipping violently from side to side. The flow of air past the antenna must have been what caused the whipping action. I just don’t know what else it could have been.
The to-and-fro motion continued up until the time I crested the summit. Sometime later on the pass’ downgrade side, all the ice had melted. It was just one of those unexpected things.
Rocky Mountain light show
Sometime during the 1980s I found myself traveling through the Rocky Mountains. I stopped over in Denver, the Mile-High City, ate dinner at a nice eatery and then bedded down for the night.
From my vantage point, I was afforded an outstanding view of the evening light show going on outside the window. Multiple repeated lightning bolts flashed across the darkened sky. To this somewhat weary traveler, what I beheld was a sight for, no doubt, sore, yet slightly tired eyes. What I thought to be an unusual aspect about this storm was the total absence of rain. I had never before seen anything like it.
All weather types imaginable encountered in an hour
Flashing forward to year 1987, and, here again, in colder climes, while on my way from Long Beach to Fresno, what I encountered was every type of imaginable weather in the span of an hour’s time.
The tale goes like this: The sky was sunny. It was mid afternoon and I had reached the base of the Tejon Pass traveling Interstate 5 north on the Tehachapi’s south side.
A little ways farther and sunshine gave way to clouds. Farther on up it started to rain. This was soon followed by snowflakes falling and at almost near the crest of the highway at an elevation of around 4,000 feet, I hit a fog bank. That I experienced five types of weather over a distance of 50-60 miles and in a one-hour time span, was really eye-opening. This was something I have not seen since.
Now jump farther ahead to the twenty teens.
What I witnessed in my Fresno neighborhood on a wintry afternoon when on my way back home from who can remember where, was by far the rarest of weather-related phenomena I had ever laid eyes on.
The sky was overcast, the air was calm. Yet, the formation of clouds above was definitely something I could see myself writing home about even if I was only a mile away from it at the time, which I was.
The cloud formation I bore witness to is really hard to describe but I’ll try.
The clouds were extremely low-lying and arranged in layers appearing in a sinuous fashion, situated, if using the imagination, in a seemingly unending string as if draping the afternoon sky. And as far as cloud formations go, this one was a very slow-moving one.
Weather even a jack-o’-lantern could appreciate
Any of the weather types described above forecasted for Halloween eve, I think would be especially fitting, uh, except for maybe the rain.
– Alan Kandel
An earlier version of this article misidentified Northern Parkway as Northern Expressway. The article has been revised and now contains the correct information.
This post was last updated on Oct. 30, 2022 at 4:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.