We’re in the middle of one of those summer thunderstorms — you know, the constant rumble, a deluge of rain, occasional flashes of lightning arcing against a light gray sky. I did my rounds this morning, going to the gym, tending to fish, getting soaked to the bone despite carrying an umbrella (they are useless when it’s windy), and I passed through the science building atrium, which is roofed with these large skylights that rumble when the rain drums on it, and caught a quick video on my phone. It doesn’t do it justice — I should go in with my good microphone and just capture the sound for an hour or two. It’s very soothing.

Important safety tip: the science atrium is not the place to hang out if there is a tornado alert. Any other time, it’s great, but during a tornado it might just rain shards of glass.


  1. robro says

    umbrella (they are useless when it’s windy)

    Yep, and it’s usually windy when it rains where I live. And, if you’re tall-ish and the sidewalk is lined with trees, you’re constantly ducking the umbrella to get under the limbs, or bumping the limbs and getting drenched. Furthermore, if it’s really windy, the wind can destroy your umbrella…$$$.

    My partner frequently offers me an umbrella, and then I patiently explain these points.

    In San Francisco, I find walking close to the buildings on the lee side of the street keeps me dryer than an umbrella.

  2. Johnny Vector says

    It rains a lot in Japan, and carrying a decent sized umbrella on the plane is difficult. Fortunately they have a wonderful umbrella rental program there. You can pick them up at any convenience store, it’s only 450 yen (about 4 bucks) to keep them as long as you want, and you can return them anywhere!

    Seriously, they’re so cheap that I used to buy a new one every trip, and leave it in the hotel or the JAXA umbrella stand when I left. As far as I can tell, most of the umbrellas in those stands are abandoned and available for anyone who needs one. More recently I just started borrowing existing ones. But it’s nice to know there’s a cheap one at the nearest conveni if the one you have gets destroyed by wind on the way to work.

  3. blf says

    I’m with Maroon…@3. I’ve had a few too many close-to-the-eye encounters with other people’s umbrellas. Hence I try to give them a wide berth. Admittedly, they(the umbrellas, and probably also the people) aren’t as nasty as peas, but then again, most things aren’t as nasty. I use a now rather-beaten (albeit not just by the rain) possibly meteor-proof leather hat.

  4. cartomancer says

    The atria of well-to-do Roman townhouses traditionally had openings in the roof to let rainwater in, which was collected in a rainwater well (impluvium) below. You should do that.

  5. jack16 says

    When stationed on Okinawa long ago I successfully carried an umbrella during typhoons (80 mph gusts). Sideways rain! It was an ordinary umbrella, lasted many years.


  6. blf says

    I presume a compluvium (see @6) in Morris would let in that weird winter white whatitscalled, and let out the incriminating formaldehyde fumes.

  7. robro says

    I know someone who would love to live in a Santa Fe adobe style house because the building surrounds an open court yard.

  8. rietpluim says

    Fishing and carrying an umbrella when there is lightning? Boy, I’m glad you’re still with us.

  9. says

    Well, we’ve had some rain here. For the last two weeks or so thunderstorms with up to 90l/m2 locally have terrorized the region, with that water falling within 30 minutes or so.
    But thank goodness we have Trump and the local right wrong idiots to tell us that climate change is a hoax.
    This was today

  10. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    In the DC area we’ve had rain nearly every day since early May and, as a result, Ellicott City, Maryland, had its second thousand-year flood in two years. Fortunately there was only one death, but millions of dollars in damage.

    But yeah, Chinese hoax, right?

  11. magistramarla says

    We were just notified that we are now under Stage 2 water restrictions. It looks like we’re in for a long, hot, dry summer in south Texas. The highs are at or near 100 already. This is particularly difficult for someone with Sjogren’s Syndrome. Every part of my body, including some organs, suffers from dryness. To make it worse, Sjogren’s has destroyed my sweat glands, so I can’t sweat anymore. It’s downright dangerous for me to be out and about after noon. Reason #3 million to return to the west coast! The husband’s retirement can’t come soon enough!

  12. chigau (違う) says

    I spent alot of my younger days living in tents whilst doing field-work.
    I was not a fan of rain.

  13. chigau (違う) says

    When we evolved to stay in *Motels*, rain was welcome.
    Still got “a day off” but it was spent indoors, warm and dry, with a TV.
    Rather than curled up inside a sleeping bag, trying to read a book by the flashlight wedged behind your ear.

  14. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    My relationship to rain has changed a great deal over the years.

    Growing up in Vancouver I didn’t think about rain much because in a temperate rain forest zone you’re wet a lot. It was a constant and I dealt with it in the almost instinctual way of long established habits.

    Then I moved to Edmonton on the Canadian prairies and snow became much more important than rain. When you commute by bicycle the quality and quantity of snow effects your daily life in a way that rain can’t. Rain became a once in a while thing that was an almost nostalgic reminder of years past.

    But now I live in rural Australia where bushfires are an ever present threat in the dry months. Rain has become much more emotional for me since the devastating Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, our part of which took out 8 houses, killed 2 people, and missed my home by 3k.

    In summer rain comes from thunder storms by and large. And when a system comes through I’m anxiously waiting to see if the rain arrives before a lighting strike sets everything on fire. The sound of the rain on our tin roof is the sound of relief, of reassurance that this time we’re unlikely to have to grab what we can and flee. The fact that gurgling downpipes also means our 20,000 litre fresh water tank is filling is really just a welcome bonus.

    Come autumn the rains mean I can breath again, that I can relax a my constant vigilance. Summer is often portrayed as a time of ease and comfort, but for me that’s winter, when I have one less anxiety to manage. The fact that I have to put on my plastic pants to ride to work doesn’t even figure into it.

  15. Maya says

    Yay for nice spots to listen to summer rainstorms.

    We’ve had less rain in May and June than usual this year, so I haven’t really had the chance to listen to a good storm in while.

  16. says

    I remember a couple of super experiences with lightning, both in Statesboro, Georgia.

    The first one was a rainstorm at night. I looked out the front door of the apartment at the front yard, and each time the lightning flashed, every single raindrop was frozen stroboscopically in place. It was a series of perfect diagrams of raindrops at specific microseconds.

    The second one was daytime, and it wasn’t even raining on us. I was at a party, and some number of us were lying and sitting about on the gentle hills in someone’s yard looking up at the clouds, where lightning was flashing from cloud to cloud, like messages being relayed. It went on for a while. Very rewarding.

    Then the third time (aha! didn’t see that coming!), I was sitting out on a terrace in Virginia Beach where a friend was playing for a wedding reception. I idly watched some distant white clouds, and as I watched, they became less and less distant, and then they turned dark, and then they poured rain. I went inside, having thoroughly enjoyed the show. Well done! Sadly, I lacked number cards to hold up.

  17. blf says

    Locally, the weather for several weeks now has been changing almost daily — a day or so of rain, then the typical-for-this-time Mediterranean sunshine, repeat… all with a fair amount of wind — “Europe” is currently suffering from an Omega Block, an Ω-shaped kink with a high pressure region on the inside (hot!) and low-pressure (rainly!) along the outside. As it so happens, where I live is almost under the eastern (right→most) “tail” in the Ω, (slightly←left of that comma!), and what I speculate is happening is as it jitters around, we keep moving from the high-to-low-and-back-to-high pressure regions: Winds, hot, winds, rain, winds, hot, winds, rain, on a cycle of a two or three days. There are apparently quite stable, and this could keep up for a few more weeks.

  18. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Kip T.W.,

    The most spectacular encounter I’ve had with lightning was skirting around the edge of a thunderstorm as we were coming in for a landing somewhere in the great landmass of the US (Nashville, maybe?). I assume we weren’t in any danger, but it was truly awesome to see the storm clouds lighting up with electricity.