big, big rain

July 18th, 2008

Well, yesterday’s weather was pretty good. Clear air, and over the eastern part of the city only streaks of thin, very high cloud. There was more solid cloud to the north, south and west, but even so, clear, clear air, not the thick, humid muck we get so much of in the summer. But as the day wore on the cloud grew thicker and heavier until by the evening it had covered the whole city.

This morning dawned grey and dull and a tad humid, but still reasonably comfortable. Looked like being another cloudy day with a chance of rain. But Beijing usually just threatens rain, and clouds usually pass leaving only a few drops with which to torment us.

Then when I turned the shower off there was a sound coming from outside the bathroom, a kind of humming sound either like a shower running on full in another room (not possible) or the fan going (but I turned it off), or perhaps rain. I got out of the bathroom and it was, of course, rain. Big rain, heavy rain, cascading down like Huangguoshu had decided it had had enough of life in Guizhou and moved to the southeast corner of Beijing. Instant surface flooding kind of rain. A deluge of Biblical proportions- well, as close to Biblical proportions as it ever gets in Beijing. I’ve seen heavier rain down south and in New Zealand- one day in Dunedin my flatmates and I got in the car and on the way home just in time to avoid a thorough soaking, trouble is, we were on the road round the southern end of the harbour when the squall hit and the rain fell so hard we literally couldn’t see past the front of the car. Sure, your driving instructor tells you to look out the side window and use the side of the road as your guide to ease the car over and stop on the verge- but we couldn’t see the side of the road, either.

Anyway, back to this storm. It has passed now, but as occasionally happens in Beijing, the tail end of the storm involved a bit of thunder and lightning. That revealed one big disadvantage of living on the top floor of a building, especially when there are no taller buildings nearby. Twice the lightning struck very close by- there was a bright flash which had my instinctively ducking for cover followed immediately by a huge, huge bang like a very large bomb going off very close by. I am convinced that the lightning did actually hit something nearby- no worries, we’ve still got electricity, and all the buildings have lightning conductors- but, obviously, I didn’t want to spend too much time too close to the window looking to see where the lightning was hitting, lest I get to see it right up close and personal.

Well, the storm has passed, but it’s still raining. Fortunately at a more moderate, reasonable rate.

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