No flying today. We made a determined attempt in the face of a discouraging forecast. Eventually, reality trumped hope and the day was cancelled.
Rain has been steadily approaching from the south for several days, with its arrival here predicted for late morning. But it looked as if a small area to the northwest might allow short tasks, and these were set for all classes. We dutifully gridded all gliders, and around 11:00 – provided you squinted your eyes a bit at forecasts and radar loops – it actually looked as if the day might possibly work. Certainly, there were some nice cumulus clouds running northwest.
Around 11:10, a rain cell was evident nearby, just in the area pilots would need to fly. By 11:15, occasional lightning was seen. By 11:25 another cell was seen developing, further northwest. The scheduled 11:30 launch was postponed. At around 11:35, contest organizers bowed to the inevitable and cancelled all tasks.
It was just in time. Crews were at haste to get gliders off the launch grid and back to their hangars or tiedowns. Wind gusts and blowing dust made this challenging, but I believe most or all succeeded before the severe weather hit, shortly after noon: strong winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightning. It’s sobering to think what landings might have been like had this weather arrived a few hours later, while pilots were attempting to return from their tasks.
The rain is forecast to extend through tomorrow, making the chance of one last task dubious (though not actually impossible). At mid-afternoon thunder is rumbling, rain is falling at a good rate on this parched land, and no doubt local farmers are smiling – for possibly the first time in many months. Forecast rain amounts are said to be between 1 and 5 inches; I suspect even the lower of these will turn the Lake Keepit airfield into something of a mud pit (the total of all barely alive grass remaining there looks about sufficient to cover a couple of tennis courts).