Week of July 10, 2022 – July 16, 2022

by Elizabeth Suzedell, Environmental Educator

With the warm temperatures and long days, summertime is a favorite season of many. It is the perfect time of year to enjoy several outdoor activities, like swimming, hiking, or camping. Despite all of the beautiful days we will experience during the season, there is one storm that occurs more frequently- the thunderstorm.

The typical morning of a day with a thunderstorm might start as bright and sunny, but rather uncomfortable. The air feels like a warm soup with the rising temperatures and high humidity. Nevertheless, we will participate in our summer activities anyway, and so will the creatures in the local environment.

As the day rolls on, the once friendly, cotton ball-like, cumulus clouds transform into tall towers. Soon, those towers stretch out until they seem to reach the Earth’s ceiling. The distant sky becomes a dark blueish-gray color, and faroff rumbles of thunder vibrate the air. There is an eerie silence as the animals amongst our fields and forests retreat when they sense the drop in the barometric pressure. There is an unsettling feeling of an impending threat.

As the darkness moves closer, there is a sudden chilling breeze. There are sounds of small raindrops, and in a short time, the rain is already pounding and bouncing off everything it hits. The once faraway rumbles of thunder are booming overhead and seem to be shaking the land. Blowing winds scatter water, leaves, and debris everywhere. Puddles grow and mini streams form over the landscape that was dry just moments ago.

Hopefully, you have made it to a shelter by now, indoors and safe. But, what about the creatures who live outdoors? They have found a shelter, just like we have in our houses and buildings. Small animals will retreat to holes in a tree or a log, under rocks and leaves, or underground. Thick vegetation acts like an umbrella for some creatures. Birds may latch on tightly to a sturdy branch to ride out the storm. Many animals instinctively go to higher ground to avoid possible flooding. They have adapted to know exactly where to go under these common summer conditions.

Just as quickly as the thunderstorm rolled in, it dissipates. The trees become still as the wind calms and the raindrops slow down. The air has cooled, and there is a sense of relief. The sun breaks through the clouds, and animals leave their shelters. Despite the fear we may feel from the thunderstorm, it has provided life to the Earth’s creatures. Now, both us humans and animals can return to our summer activities.