When I was in 5th grade, my science fair project was about weather control - how in the future we would use satellites with lasers to basically have rain fall where it was needed and not fall where it wasn't. Forty years later it appears the Chinese are giving weather control a shot for this year's Olympic games. The Chinese even have a Director of Weather Modification, who knew? I think in the US the closest we have in the National Weather Service is the Director of Throwing Darts at a Weather Map. With that in mind, Carl and I should not have trusted the forecast for Sunday: clear with slight chance of scattered storms after 2pm. But being fools, we did.
We decided to do a 30 mile out and back on the Heritage Rail Trail from Glen Rock to York, PA, allowing us to complete the entire North Central/Heritage Rail Trail duopoly this season. This section is very rural until you start nearing York, has lots of interesting old structures, one of the few bike shop-restaurant-day spa-WiFi hot spots you will see on a bike trail and the oldest continuously operational stone arch tunnel in the world, the Howard Tunnel. The trail is slightly downhill going north, so the return trip is slightly uphill but the weather was gorgeous and we made good time after a few false starts actually finding Glen Rock.
Lots of people out on bikes, including several Boy Scout groups. Everywhere you look along the trail new facilities are popping up, including a rest stop with bicycle sculptures. As we headed north it started to cloud up a bit and as we hit the 11 mile mark and started entering the greater York metropolitan area, we started to hear some rumbling that sounded like jet planes (to Carl) or cars going over a metal bridge (to me) but once we reached the end of the trail in downtown York, we realized there were no jets and no metal bridges, just plenty of really dark clouds moving in from the west. As we headed back, Carl looked at the dimples in Codorus Creek and noted that the fish must be really biting - until I pointed out that those "dimples" were from rain drops, not fish.
As we continued south the rain drops got a bit bigger, the thunder got a lot louder and the wind really picked up. The time between the lightning and the thunder kept decreasing until we saw the crack and heard the boom pretty much simultaneously - and it began to just pour down in a gutter gushing deluge. We were about a mile away from the tunnel, so we just slogged it out until we got there and joined about 20 other weather refugees inside the 170 year old structure. After about 20 minutes, the rains slowed and we prepared to head out - until the rain picked up again, and we waited some more. It finally slowed again, and we headed out - but of course it started pouring again. Being manly men, and soaking wet already anyway, we just kept slogging southward, towards the sound of more thunder. There were many tree limbs down along the trail, and when we finally reached Carl's Jeep and tuned to the weather frequency we found that the area had been under a tornado warning.
Later that night I checked the NOAA weather reports and York County had gotten 2.65 inches of rain, pretty much from that one storm we rode through. Where are those satellites and laser beams when you need them?