The picture above, taken by Manteo photographer Bill Hinkle, is a prime example. The storm is really coming together as it comes across the Albemarle and Croatan sounds toward Wanchese on Roanoke Island before rolling across the Pamlico to Hatteras Island. If you wait too long , it's soon too late and getting caught in the open in stinging rain and heavy ligthning is never a good experience. Living in Florida, I can attest to how dangerous that can be and the ingredients along the Outer Banks are similar to what we find in Florida.
During my days of youth at Nags Head I witnessed up close and personal such storms and they quickly made a believer out of me. From trying to quickly get home from Jockey's Ridge to being on a charter boat in the Gulf Stream and unable to make it to shore before the fury unfolded is no picnic. From the safety and comfort of good cover, they are beautiful, albeit frightening at times to watch, but being outside in one ranks as a potential fatal attraction.
Sometimes a hidden surprise can be included and on some occasions, when the main storm doesn't even arrive, you can witness it. Again, I had the displeasure of witnessing one of those surprises close and was fortunate to get away clear. What am I talking about? Well, I refer to water tornadoes, or waterspouts, which can materialize as a separated component of such weather. In my experience, we were water skiing in Roanoke Sound, a great body to do so in since it is shallow. I was on the skis, the sky was bright and sunny and as I came about on a wide turn, up ahead about a mile was a waterspout, generally coming in our direction. The driver saw it, gave me a signal to fall, and he came back and picked me up. By the time we headed to safety the waterspout had closed over half of the distance and later we learned that several boast were flipped with minor injuries. One was actually ruined as it was picked up like a missile and slammed down into the water shortly thereafter.
Having talked about the downside, we must however look at the upside, and that's the display of beauty and power that the storm shows us. Perhaps it is God just sending us a sign that He is always there and we need to realize that He expects us to live as He wants us to do. The Lord knows that we need that lesson, but that aside, the beauty is awesome to behold as long as you aren't in a position to be a victim. It offers a prime example of how, when we get too sure of ourselves, there is always something to show us that we need to humble ourselves to the powers that we really don't full understand. And thank you to Bill for letting me share his beautiful picture. There is something about the raw starkness of black and white which requires us to focus on the scene itself and not the colors that can distract from our really seeing the whole picture for what it means.