Appalachia Seasons Weather

Evening Thunderstorms

mountains with storm rolling over them

Thunderstorms are part and parcel of summer in Western North Carolina. The storms bubble up from over in Tennessee and meander their way over the mountains into North Carolina opting to leave some folks dry and totally drench the people living just down the road.

The storms are typically short-lived, even the ones that arrive with a great fury of wind and rain. As the storm heads on down the way the ground steams from the heat of the day and the water left behind in the deluge.

I remember being over in Pine Log when I was about 12. I was swimming at Buck Reece’s pond along with my friend and her family. It was a creepy pond with a tree still standing right in the middle of the water. There was a swing that reached out over the deepest depths, but I was way too afraid to swing on it. All the others had great fun seeing how far they could go before dropping into the murky coolness.

Before we knew it, it blew up a cloud and we were running for shelter.

We had walked down the dusty gravel road to reach the pond and were at least a mile away from home. Thankfully there was an old shed nearby. We took shelter in it, wrapping our wet towels tightly around us as the rain beat on the roof and the wind howled. It seemed like the storm lasted forever. My friend’s younger brother dozed on his mother’s shoulder as we all wished it would end.

I’m positive I was the only one scared of the lightning and thunder, but we were all glad when the storm abated and bright hot sunshine came from behind the clouds to dry our suits and hair as we walked back up the road towards the Coleman Gap and home.


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  • Reply
    Gina Lee Smith
    July 18, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    I just love your posts. There are so many unwanted emails that show up. Yours is a joy I always look forward too. Love the pictures you post and paint with words.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    I enjoyed these memories of summer storms!

  • Reply
    Hank Skewiis
    July 18, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    Loved the eastern thunderstorms even though the humidity seemed twice as bad afterwards. We don’t have their like in California.
    Thanks Tipper! Hank

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    One of the things I remember from when I was little, was me and Harold taking a toe-sack and going to Valley River up in Emmit’s Meadow to seign minnows. We’d go up the creek a good ways and muddy the water, so the fish couldn’t see. We’d catch what we called “Redbellies”, only they looked like a Trout, with a red stripe down the sides. (I bet those Bass in Nantahala Lake would like some more.) We’d catch hundred of ’em and we had an old Refrigerator in Trim Cove Branch to keep them in. That is, if we could keep out the watersnakes out. We’d have to call the dogs to do away with “em. They’d sling the Mud out of them.

    I haven’t seen any “Redsides” or “Redbellies” since, but that’s been a long time ago. …Ken

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    July 18, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Great story, Tipper! Reminds me of swimming on a road. Swimming on a road? Yep! My mom’s cousin and her husband had a fish camp on Lake Hiawassee. We were visiting one hot summer and wanted to go for a swim. The lake bottom at the camp concerned my “Aunt Harriet,“ because she thought, “those fool fishermen probably threw glass bottles in.” (All mom’s cousins were “aunt” or “uncle” because mom was an only child.) Instead, she had Uncle Rad drive us to the safe place. He drove for a while and all the sudden, the road stopped and the lake began. We had such a grand time swimming in the mountain lake with such beautiful scenery. The best part to my young mind was that when I put my feet down, it was on a road. One of those summer storms blew up and all we had to do was run up the road to the truck. That was probably sixty years ago, now. Still can remember the novelty and the fun.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 18, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Today’s read conjures up a plethora of memories of thunderstorms from my youth and into the present, but I will recount only one today. One of floating the Little Tennessee on an inner tube.
    That was our Summer sport if you can call it a sport. Everyone knows what an inner tube is, right? It was (and still sometimes is) the inner liner of a car tire. But you can blow one up and it keeps you from sinking in water, right? Ours were a bit different. You see, my friend Beanie’s dad worked at a rock quarry. They had big haul trucks with tires and tubes to match. He would bring a few of these home with him. They would be dry rotted and have multiple holes but with concerted effort we could patch them up enough to hold a little air.
    The threat of a thunderstorm was only one of the dangers we faced. Snakes and hornets often dwelt amongst the limbs of the trees overhanging the riverbank. Other kids throwing rocks sometimes followed us downstream. Fishermen confounded by their lack of luck blamed us for disturbing the water cussed us and cast in our direction. All this and more convinced us to maintain our course in the middle of the river. In the middle where we were the highest point. The center of lightning’s target.
    We were on a rubber inner tube. We were insulated, right? Electricity follows the path of least resistance, right? What to do? Do we paddle to ten minutes to shore and face the possibility of lightning striking the very tree we seek shelter under?
    That’s was fifty-some years ago and I don’t still know the answer. We chose to stay the course. Rather than endure the cold rain of a summer thunderstorm we would bail off the tube, swim under and poke our heads up through the hole. Could lightning have struck us out there in such an exposed position? I don’t know! But, it didn’t! Some of our number have since departed Earth’s travails but none by lightning strike.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 18, 2019 at 10:32 am

    My husband and son got caught out fishing when a tornado came over! They had a frantic dash trying to get the boat to the ramp.

    A few nights ago we had almost constant thunder for at least 20 minutes. I love a thunderstorm but am a little more wary after the big tornado that destroyed so much of Clarksville during the night–around 1999, i think. We had no idea what had happened except we had no electricity. Went outside & it was eerily quiet except we kept hearing someones wind chime–very creepy. My husband did a lot of the demolition and salvage–including a Bible complete & dry.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 18, 2019 at 9:41 am

    One mid-morning Me and Harold was fishing in Valley River just below the house. We had caught several Chubs when we looked over at the highway and saw a Revenue Officer coming straight at us. Dillard Hardin and his boys had a Still near our favorite fishin’ hole and a stream was nearby that came from our property. The Still was hid behind some Laurels, but that ole Revenue Officer had a keen eye. He was nice to us boys and ask if we liked Ice Cream. That was all it took for us to throw-down our homeade poles and head to Bigfist’s Service station. We didn’t know much back then, never thought about the Officer tearing down the Still, all we thought about was Chock Cows. When we returned, we found that the Officer had cut the Still in little bitty pieces. There was Pieces of pipe everywhere, and he had taken an ax and chopped holes in the rest of it.

    That was years before we had a phone or anything, besides we wouldn’t tell anyone about seeing a Still in the first place. Ole Dillard and his boys didn’t have any Special Skills, like raisin’ a garden and all, they only knew Makin’ Moonshine. That was a way of life when I was little. …Ken

  • Reply
    July 18, 2019 at 9:36 am

    I love a good thunderstorm as well – and right now, even though we had a wet spring, we could use a few!!
    About those stock ponds (they’re called stock tanks around here), since they are “quiet water” and not constantly being refreshed, bacteria and viruses are more likely to thrive in them and far too many youth who couldn’t resist swimming in them have come down with serious illnesses such as meningitis or encephalitis. Yes, you can acquire those illnesses in other ways, but I’d wager that a high percentage of them occur after swimming in a stock tank. If if weren’t for vaccines, I imagine polio would also be a result of those swims.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 18, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Tip, that’s a beautiful picture! I do so love these mountains…I feel protected by them. I love the sudden rains that disappear as quickly as they came, the snow that turns it into a winter wonder land. I like that we call this God’s country.
    I’ve lived away from here…where it’s flat…and let me tell you this is better. There is nothing like being wrapped in the arms of our mountains!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2019 at 8:43 am

    I don’t know where last night’s storm bubbled up from, but it was a doozie. The weatherman said it dropped as much as 2″ per hour in some locations. I believe it did here! We have an excessive heat warning for the next few days and may be wishing for a cooling thunderstorm before it finally ends.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 18, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Back in the 50’s and 60’s the state built livestock ponds for farmers and stocked them with bass and bluegills. Most farmers didn’t want you swimming in their ponds and mudding up the livestock’s water. Dad didn’t have one built on our place so us boys would slip in to someone else’s pond. Usually it would be my Papaw’s pond. Papaw used to tell us to never go near water till you learned how to swim and he really didn’t want you in his pond. One Sunday afternoon and I don’t know why I wasn’t skinny dipping in Papaw’s pond but a younger brother was. I walked with Dad up the holler and my brother got caught swimming. Dad ordered my brother out of the water and was taking off his big leather belt. You never seen a naked boy get a worse whupping than that. After that Dad would often take us to Little Sandy River to swim. That part of the river is now part of the Grayson Lake. One of the important things the adults would tell us was get out of the water when a storm was brewing.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 18, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I love a summer thunderstorm, especially the smell of the hot dust as the first big drops hit. There is just something invigorating about the freshening coolness and the sound of the wind.

    But I am less excited about the lightening. Where I used to live in Gilmer County, GA we had a lot of lightening. I was standing at the sink one rainy day looking out into the back yard when lightening struck a pine tree about a hundred feet away. The flash blinded me and I couldn’t help dropping down below the sink. Another time lightening struck an oak just across the road and there were flames in midair and in the rain. After we had moved away but before the house had sold lightening blew apart a 14″ or so diameter yellow poplar about six feet from the southwest corner of the house. A big splinter stuck through the wooden siding but by some miracle the tree fell away from the house.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    July 18, 2019 at 7:55 am

    It can blow up a cloud real fast over the mountains. Folks use to say “When the breeze blows up the country, it’ll go to stormin’ in the evenin’.” And, “When the poplar leaves turns up, hit’s a-comin’!”
    There was Shenandoah National Park ranger once who had been struck by lightning three times during his career along the Skyline Drive – and retired in good health!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Beautifully written and deeply enchanting just like those afternoon thunderstorms. I’m a long way from my TN home, but you have carried me back. Thank you.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2019 at 7:03 am

    One of my favorite surprises by nature is the loud boom of thunder then the downpour that follows. I know it can damage, and have seen a few trees hit by lightening. Maybe it goes back to my youth when another Holler kid proclaimed thunder was “the voice of God, and lightening is his hand.”
    Later in life I did stay inside the vehicle or house when a storm was raging, because I knew the lightening could strike. Somewhere off in the far distant past it seems I have heard some child say, “I hope lightenin’ strikes you dead.” Maybe I love it so much because it gave us the opportunity to build a cabin on the front porch using an old spread. We would throw the spread over Mom’s ironing board and porch chairs and play until the storm was over. We would even run out into the rain and be rescued by another sibling. Those were the days of youth when everything was an adventure, especially a thunder storm. Thanks Tipper!

  • Reply
    Ed Mahaffey
    July 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Your phrasing “it blew up a cloud” reminds me of the way my grandmother always told us that a thunderstorm was approaching. She would say “it’s coming up a cloud”.

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