Unless you've been sound asleep for the past several hours, you know that some very intense thunderstorms recently made their way through the Chicago area on Wednesday evening - an evening, incidentally, when I was scheduled to pick up cats from the PAWS Chicago Spay/Neuter clinic.
I arrived at PAWS a bit earlier than usual, hoping to get out of there before the worst of the storm hit. I was able to get the cats loaded into the car when the rain was only a little bit more than a drizzle, but by the time I had the paperwork double-checked and squared away, the wind was howling like I'd rarely seen it before. It was the classic 'horizontal rain', coming down (sideways) in sheets. I waited by the front door to have it slow down just a bit before I broke for the car (and I was, fortunately, parked right in front of PAWS). The rain let up a bit and I ran to get in the car. Just as I got in, the wind and rain picked up again. I took off right away, though, because I knew the storm was heading east and I was heading west and I was hoping to get out of the mess as quickly as possible.
26th street was quickly turning into a river, so I turned onto a side street, hoping to take 25th street westwards instead. However, there were tree branches and some whole trees down in all of the side streets, with a few of them on top of cars - I was lucky to snake my way through them. I made my way back on to 26th street, but by then the wind and rain were so severe, I couldn't see more than 3-4 feet in front of my car. I pulled into the McDonalds parking lot to wait out the worst of it, but left the lot when I discovered some trees and tree branches in the lot - I didn't want to get in the way of the next one to fall down...
Back onto 26th street, heading west towards Ogden Ave. I had the radio on and they announced that the City of Chicago had sounded their tornado sirens because of a 'possible sighting of a tornado'. I'll believe them that the sirens were sounding, but I couldn't hear them through the closed car windows, the hail, rain and wind. The viaduct under the train tracks was flooding, but I got through before it was too deep. Then a very intense hour and half to the Western suburbs. I had to detour off of Ogden avenue a few times because of the deep water, but did make it all the way back to Judy's to drop off the cats. I was very grateful that on this trip, the kittens riding with me chose to be silent - I don't think I would have enjoyed their meowing while I was concentrating on the road.
That was the most intense pressure I've felt behind the wheel in a long time - I was so happy when the radio announced that the storm was now east of me.
It's enough to get your blood racing, that's for sure...
Anyway, we did 15 more cats today; 10 ferals and five 'friendly-ferals'. That makes a total of 29 this month, 364 this year and 1,843 overall since we've started. Thanks again to super-volunteer Judy for organizing all of this in Tammy's absence (though she could have left the thunderstorms out of it) and thanks to super-volunteer Jennifer for driving the cats into PAWS.