Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From sunshine to storm on Labor Day September 4, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:55 PM
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Looking to the north and the Minnesota River Valley just outside Delhi around 4 p.m. Monday.


TO THE NORTH, storm clouds bruised the sky late Labor Day afternoon.


To the east of Delhi heading toward Redwood Falls.


Brooding blue, then masses of grey before the rain gushed near New Ulm as we drove east from the southwestern Minnesota prairie toward home. The rainfall, while heavy at times, seemed nothing more than a September downpour.


Sky and corn define this area of Minnesota.


Well before we got to Mankato, the rain stopped.


The farther east we drove, the more ominous the clouds appeared.


Yet clouds continued to stack and I began to consider the possibility of severe weather as we entered Waseca, then Steele, counties. Randy switched on the radio to a local station but then turned it off when our son called from Boston. I ended the conversation as we reached Owatonna and exited U.S. Highway 14 onto Interstate 35.

Rounding the entrance ramp, Randy noticed a state highway patrol car and, then, a short distance later, another. By that time the rain had ramped. Wheels hydroplaned. And the wind blew so fierce the van rocked.

“I’m scared,” I said. “I want to get off the interstate.” Randy steered the van off the next exit, much to my relief. But I was still scared. I don’t like storms or strong winds like these of probably 50 mph. I’ve seen the damaging power of tornadoes and straight line winds and I respect them enough to fear them.


Just a few miles from Faribault on Rice County Road 45.


We drove through part of Owatonna, the wind still whipping trees. The short detour off I-35 proved enough to semi calm me before Randy directed the van out of town along a back county road. I wanted nothing more than to get home to Faribault. I’d had enough of the wind and the rain on an otherwise glorious September day in southern Minnesota.


TELL ME: Have you ever been caught on the roadway in a storm that scared you? I’d like to hear about your experiences.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “From sunshine to storm on Labor Day”

  1. Expectational Says:

    I’m glad you got home safely. I’m not a big fan of storms either. I was out mowing my lawn when the storm hit. At first I tried to keep mowing but then it just got too stormy.

  2. Ruth Pitt Says:

    Hi Audrey, it’s been awhile! That was quite the storm and wind! I have been meaning to call you! Take care and love your posts!

  3. Valerie Says:

    Great photos of the sky. Where I was the storm came up fast and then was gone. Thankfully.

  4. We had thunderstorms off and on this weekend – part of living here and now on Hurricane Irma watch. We just had a bad storm here a few weeks back – it dropped over 4 inches of rain in less than 2 hours – flash flooding, flooding on roads, the parking lot was flooded up to my ankles – it was pretty scary driving home, but there was no waiting out the storm because it went on for hours – I would probably have left work around 11:30 p.m. if I waited it out. This desert lizard is now learning to be a shore bird – ha! Glad to hear your safe and sometimes you have to press on while other times you have to pull off and hunker down. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    I both love and fear storms – there’s something about the wildness, the electricity that makes a fierce beauty. I’ve been caught in storms while driving and it is a bit unnerving, isn’t it? Once I was driving home from Colorado and it was just me and my then-10-year-old daughter on the interstate in Nebraska when it thunderstormed like crazy. We were driving faster than the storm was moving, so we stayed ahead of it for the most part, but my daughter was scared to death. I was just grateful we were ahead of it. Much more fun to see those cloud formations in my rearview mirror than overhead!

  6. Dawn Says:

    A week and a half ago we got hit with what they call a burst. It lasted less than 3 minutes. The wind came up and then it was done. We had ten 350+ year old oak trees down or uprooted. Apple trees down. Maple trees down. The corn around our 10 acres untouched. The neighbors had no damage. Guess we needed pruning. Peonies untouched. You just never know. Always best to treat storms with respect.

    • Oh, Dawn, I remember those beautiful oaks on your property. I am sorry you lost them and other trees to that storm burst. What was the wind speed? It must have been incredibly high.

      I’m thankful your peonies were spared.

  7. Jackie Says:

    That cloud in the 4th photo….yikes, I can see why you were scared. I like storms but only from the safety of my own house. I guess I’ve never had any close calls to speak of. Lucky so far I guess.

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Wow! I’ve never been caught out in a storm like that. Good plan to get off the interstate!

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