The wall cloud of a severe storm passes over the fields near Milton-Freewater Thursday.
Courtesy photo by Larry Kemp
— By Emily Dickinson, 1896
Force of Nature
A severe thunderstorm struck the Walla Walla Valley late Thursday afternoon.
There came a wind like a bugle;
It quivered through the grass,
And a green chill upon the heat
So ominous did pass
We barred the windows and the doors
As from an emerald ghost;
The doom’s electric moccasin
That very instant passed.
On a strange mob of panting trees,
And fences fled away,
And rivers where the houses ran
The living looked that day.
The bell within the steeple wild
The flying tidings whirled.
How much can come
And much can go,
And yet abide the world!
By The Union-Bulletin
Some 117 years after the poet wrote those words, storms never cease to lose their awe in the human mind.
Such was the case on Thursday when a tempest blew in from the southwest, swept over the Walla Walla Valley and moved on to Dayton.
Photographers were out en masse to capture the force of nature as it progressed, from arrival to aftermath.
The sheer beauty and form of a beast made of nothing but air and moisture. The power it can unleash, snapping trees with ease. The danger it can pose from flying debris and downed power lines. The darkness it brings to homes that lose electricity — and the candles of warmth and light subsequently lighted.
The storm first hit Milton-Freewater, then struck College Place and Walla Walla about 5:20 p.m., blasting its path with 60-plus-mph winds, lightning, thunder and lashing rain
But it did not last long, moving out the area after less than an hour and on toward Dayton.
Steve Ruley, Walla Walla County public safety radio system supervisor, said half humorously that the storm was “100 minutes of hell,” with dispatchers logging 95 separate incidents in that space of time.
And before sunset, recovery was under way in neighborhoods. Chain saws buzzed through downed wood to clear streets and power company crews and emergency responders were on the job to turn darkness back to light — with the throw of a switch, of course.
How much can come
And much can go ....