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A Wall Cloud

Story ID:6362
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Only Here
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Person:Wildcat Fans
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A Wall Cloud

A Wall Cloud

A Wall Cloud

Ken and I have been attending Kansas State University football games since 1975, and in all that time, we have never had an experience to equal what occurred at today’s game.

We left for our tailgate brunch with friends, keeping an eye on some dark clouds to the north. We brought rain gear with us but hoped the rain would stay far to the north as it so often does.

We sipped Bloody Mary’s and ate quiche and apple cake, finished with coffee all the while watching those big thunderclouds and noticing an occasional streak of lightning.
Still pretty far up north of us.

Today was Ft. Riley Day so the pregame activities were along the theme of the US Army since Ft. Riley lies only 8 miles west of our community. The soldiers and their families are a big part of our lives, and the Manhattan community goes out of its way to let them know they are appreciated. The stands were dotted here and there with clusters of uniformed soldiers.

The teams came onto the field, and Kansas State and Central Florida kicked off. All through the pregame acitivities, I noticed a strange looking cloud beneath the other clouds. It moved slowly and kept changing shape until it looked like a wall across the north end of the stadium. I’d never seen anything like it, especially not a cloud this huge nor this black. Streaks of lightning crossed the sky now and then, and suddenly the announcer caught everyone’s attention.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said, “the game is being suspended due to lightning in the area. Please leave the stadium immediately and seek shelter. According to NCAA rules, the game will be suspended for a minimum of 30 minutes.”

Over fifty thousand people left the stadium in an orderly fashion, most of them keeping a wary eye on the wall cloud. Some headed to their cars, trucks and vans in the parking lots while others, including Ken and me, went to the basketball coliseum. We stood inside on the concourse and watched a never-ending stream of calm people enter the multiple doors.

Very soon, the wind picked up and heavy rain descended. As I stood inside watching the storm, I couldn’t help but think of the many victims of Hurricane Katrina who had to seek shelter in the Superdome for a much longer time than what we hoped to be standing on the concourse. To be in a huge crowd of people during a frightening weather situation is a very strange feeling, and yet, I never felt frightened. God was in control and I was not. Whatever would happen would happen.

The hard, driving rain diminished, and the sky got a bit brighter, so people began to leave and move back to the stadium. The game began an hour and twenty-five minutes after it had been suspended, and the stadium was once again filled with wildly cheering fans who kept a wary eye on the clouds. Within half an hour, the sky looked brighter, the clouds had moved on and old Mr. Sun appeared. We shed the purple ponchos and slipped on sunglasses for the rest of the game. We managed to win the game in the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter, so K-State fans left the stadium with smiles. Our team is now 4-0, not a bad start for the season.

I think some of those smiles were also for the fact that we had all come through a strange weather occurrence unscathed. We’d been witness to something very few people have seen, and there was no panic. We’d behaved like responsible human beings, and we can be thankful that all were safe.

The small group of fans that came to cheer Central Florida will go home to that southern state with tales to tell, as will their team, many of whom had never been to the Midwest before. Like fish stories, that cloud may grow bigger and bigger as the telling goes on. I know that I’ll never forget it, and believe me, it was big.