The Perfect Storm

The power and the fury of the storm caught us off guard. El Niño, a weather pattern famous for producing a continuous stream of storms in Texas, seemed to misfire over and over.

The core of the Austin kayaking community, dependent on storms to fuel our unfortunate addiction, sat frustrated around an ancient TV with a snowy signal, watching storm after storm split up and float completely around us. Around 11:00, everything changed. Like every day leading up to this day, a line of storms lay spread out before us like kids at a Harry Potter movie on opening day. Only this time, they punched Austin, hard.

El Niño, the split jet stream, filtered across the ocean and brought warm, moist air right across Texas. It collided with the cooler air of a cold front. The pressure system in the South fed a rotation, and locked the cool front in place. The warm air exploded into the cold and produced a perfect storm. We opened the topological maps and found a stream that had never been run. It had the steepness and geographical features that we were looking for. It simply had not had enough water. As we planned the trip, the mighty storm hurled a string of consecutive lightning bolts right near a hilltop, less than a mile away. Distracted, we stared into the night, alternately black and blinding.