Summer storms are a fact of life where I live. They seem to pop up out of a clear blue sky. This one is no exception. I hear it first, a low rumble in the distance outside my window. There it is, a vast cumulus tower, its curves bright white in the sun, its top sheared off in high-level wind. A look at the radar shows we’ll probably be in its path.
When the sky grows dark I go outside to watch its progress. The soaring thunderclouds are invisible now, the sky a lumpy deep grey blanket except for that ragged leading edge, like fingers dragging a cloak of cloud in their wake. Lightning flashes all around me, sometimes high up in the cloud, making it light up inside, sometimes a spear of brilliance stabbing into the ground.
I count the seconds for the thunder. One… two… and then the rolling bouncing rumble like a bowling ball in the gutter. Or the sharp ear-bursting cymbal crash followed by a drum roll.
The very air is electric, making my skin tingle. There is no wind down here, but there is up there. The finger fragments have passed me, now heading for the sea. Now the first heavy drops of rain begin to fall, leaving a polka dot pattern on the hot paving. And with the rain comes the wind, bending the palm trees and swirling around the veranda.
I retreat under cover and watch the sky show as the storm surrounds us with noise and fury. Bolt after bolt of lightning hurtles down, thunder bangs and crashes while the rain beats down with an added timpani of hail.
The seconds between the lightning bolts and the thunder lengthen. The storm is gone almost as quickly as it developed, leaving 22mm of rain in as many minutes.
Not long after, the sun breaks through, bright as a searchlight on the trees. Of course there’ll be a rainbow. And there is, along with a brilliant sunset.