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Just hang around 5 minutes and it'll change......

Ummmmmm! Turkey!

Boredom.  Monotony.  Heat.  Wind.  Dust.  Weather Bug says it is 106 degrees at 3pm.  That is the gate guard life.  Miss Kathy and I try and take advantage of the reduced traffic volume on the weekends.  Usually that means something is cookin’ up in the electric smoker.   This weekend the entree’ is smoked turkey.

Finally!  I get to go off shift and sit still for a little bit in the cool confines of the Old Girl.   No surprises today and the turkey should be ready by 5pm  — just right for us to get a good meal and then I can trot off to bed.  2am comes awfully early.

Then Miss K holds the small of her back and says ‘Is it supposed to rain?’  I looked at her like there was something growing out of her head.  The sky was a washed out hard brass blue and there was not a whiff of moisture in the air.  But then again…. when her back hurts in that one spot it generally forebodes rain so I asked if the weather radio was on and pulled up the weather radar on the laptop.   Sonofabitch!  There it was –sure enough.  A nasty little band of thunderstorms building out on the Dry Line to the west.  It wasn’t long till the weather radio started up – my concern was could I get the Smoked Turkey done before the rain came because it looked like a little shower was inevitable.  That was my first mistake–  you never underestimate  a Texas thunderstorm if your home happens to be a recreational vehicle.   This line of storms was moving pretty slow and it looked like it was going to miss us to the north.  The Smoked Turkey was safe!  and sacrificed itself for the good of the people.  Yum!

So all things were good in Fish Bus Land until the weather radio went off again around 730.   This time it wasn’t fooling around – 10 minutes away and coming for us with 60mph+ winds and quarter sized hail.   We shoulda jumped in the Suburban and hauled ass;  I was too cooled out on the the turkey endorphins to give a good damn.  Big mistake.

Funny things happen when you have high temps and a dry line with moisture.  It starts raining and the ground is so hot that the rain evaporates way up in the atmosphere before it ever hits the ground.  This cool air then sinks rapidly and brings those high winds aloft down to ground level.  They call it a downburst.

Witch on a bicycle

The first gust hit the rv broadside and rocked the Old Girl over on her heels.  She is no lightweight travel trailer either… probably 30,ooo lbs loaded with all her stuff.  Count a generator hung behind the front bumper and that Cummins diesel in the rear with 4 hydraulic levelers balancing out the weight and we are anchored  pretty good.  That is what I thought anyway.   It got as bad as I have ever seen it.  Miss K was convinced it was

Muenster, TX storm damage

going to tear the vent covers off the roof.   The Perky Pet hummingbird feeder peeled off the window with a thump that sent Miss K straight up off the couch  and rolled out under the rv headed south to the Gulf.   5 gallon buckets and potted jalapeno plants swirled and tumbled.   I watched all the lights go out in succession as they were blown over and could only think those halogen bulbs are $5 a pop… and I just popped several.  For some reason, the image of Miss Gulch on the bicycle riding that Kansas twister up and away came to mind.   The rain was horizontal sheets and we were broadside to it. The Old Girl was heeling over at least 15 degrees and the hail was peppering the sides.  Unidentified various crap swirled by and was gone in a blink. For the first time in my rv life, I was genuinely concerned.

Toppled crane

The only good thing about downbursts are that they are over as quick as they begin.   K and I walked out into a sodden world with leaves and small branches on the ground and took stock.  Tuco the Dog was having a good time sniffing and running at any rate.  The temp had dropped 30 degrees in 10 minutes.  It wasn’t long before we started to get damage reports from the outlying areas when the guys checked in the gate.  One said it had ‘tore hell’ out of Muenster with the roofs of several business that lined Main Street cluttering the road.  One said he heard a rig had been blown over just west of here.  The boys doing the flowback on one of our sites said their trailer was blown off the leveling blocks and scooted 5 feet.   A 90′ crane at one of the frac jobs toppled onto some frac tanks.  Later in the evening, a large wrecker would arrive to start the process of righting the crane.  The twisted boom will have to be cut into pieces for removal as will the tanks.  Winds were estimated in excess of 80mph and we got a half inch of rain in 10 minutes.

What could we have done differently?  Not a whole lot I guess when we chose not to get out while the getting was good.  Once we made the ill-advised decision to ride it out that is exactly what we had to do.  I feel we would have been safer if we would have just gone and gotten in the Suburban.  I can see why people get killed in recreational vehicles when events like this occur.

Toppled crane

 

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5 comments to Just hang around 5 minutes and it’ll change……

  • Oh my gosh! We didn’t have a cloud in the sky here. I’m so glad you guys are all right!

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  • John Duncan

    We had one of those “pucker” moments a couple of weeks ago here, too. Glad y’all are OK!!

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  • Sailbad

    Andy, Glad you didn’t suffer more damage. Being from Oklahoma, I’ve been through a couple of those micro burst. Once, it took the roof off the house and barn. Later a second hit the unhooked 5er broadside and I thought I was going over. I share your concerns. Riding out one of those storms is an experience I don’t want again.

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  • Joel

    Interesting story.

    Another case for bricks and mortar.

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  • I was there! Wasn’t that crazy. I was going to the Foster when it hit. Johnny’s eyes were as big as dinner plates when I got there. Him and Craig were in their trailer when it moved it off the blocks. He said they bailed out and they got soaked. Ahh, life in the oilfield. We laughed about it, went over and checked our gauges, hooked up the truck and got back to work.

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