The town I call home happens to be located at the tail end of what’s called “Tornado Alley” which stretches from the Northern Plains way up in South Dakota to almost the bottom of the Texas Panhandle. (See pic to clear this up if you’re not up on U.S. geography.)
Tornado season is upon us (as evidenced by news coverage of the places in Oklahoma who have been slammed by these lately). I happen to work for a large university’s research institute which focuses on wind damage and mitigation, and is at the forefront of such research. I don’t do the research side of things, but I do a lot of writing and editing linked with that, so I’ve learned a lot about severe weather events (as they’re called). They’re complex, multi-faceted, and incredibly powerful.
I’ve lived in this city for a long time – 30 years this August was when I first stepped foot on to this particular American soil – and one of the first things I noticed in the college dorms when I arrived were these yellow rip-off postcards with the steps to take if a tornado happens. I had just come from England where the rain was fairly mellow most of the time – not that many severe events – and so I was fascinated that now I lived in a place where such things as tornadoes could occur.
All this to say, that we had some severe weather last night. Huge thunderstorms, winds about 80 mph, rain and hail – all very loud and heavy. Thank goodness no tornado, but it was severe for here. Several of our windows were broken by hail (with holes in the glass about the size of baseballs or cricket balls). A big branch landed on the roof and shook the whole house. Power out. I haven’t been exposed to such extreme weather in a long time, and my massive respect for Mother Nature has now been renewed.
There seems to be nothing that you can do when you’re in the midst of a huge storm like this. I just walked around the house (which seemed to be very inadequate against the wind and rain), and got startled out of my skin each time a window pane was broken. It was as sudden and as strong as someone throwing a cricket ball or baseball through the glass. It all happened in quick succession on the West side of the house, and all you can do is stand there and jump when another pane gets broken. It’s amazing. We had our eyes glued to the weather on TV (whenever the power was on), just hoping not to get a tornado. It was one of the most awe-inspiring humbling experiences in my life.
Luckily, all is safe and sound. All the pets are fine. We’re fine. And to be honest, this is very minor when compared with the tornadoes in El Reno and Moore, OK.
So – now on to calling and arranging insurance people to assess the damage. This was an amazing experience… We did have the plan to jump into the heavy cast-iron bathtub covered with a mattress if things came to that, but thank goodness we passed through this with minor damage.
Thoughts go to those who have received much harsher treatment from the Weather Gods lately.
And then (below), here is a photo of a guy in the neighborhood who is meticulous about his front lawn. He is Hoovering the paths of his front garden after the storm had passed. Really honestly true.