tornado alleyway

Recently my home dodged a tornado by perhaps 100-200 ft.

I wasn’t home at the time, so I didn’t see the twister. I came back later that day, early enough to see some of the damage in my neighborhood, but late enough that I did some work clearing the front yard after dark.

I grew up in a town that sees hurricanes blow through every few years. I’ve walked outside in the calm after a hurricane to see half the trees on my street down, smashing plenty of cars and houses along their way. Trees are very heavy and moving fast when they collide with things. You could hit one with a truck and it wouldn’t topple over. On one instance, I saw a tree bisecting a volvo, with the underside resting on the asphalt. Hurricanes spawn tornadoes. Most of the storm was below the threshold for a minor hurricane, some shingles and things that could be caught in unusually strong gusts.

When driving home, I passed what used to be a trailer park. Instead of trailers, there was a group of emergency services vehicles with lights on. In case it’s not obvious, never stay in a trailer or car during a tornado warning. Never. Lying face down in a ditch is far safer.

Tornadoes have unusual damage. This time, the top of one tree was sheared off just higher than the level of nearby (intact) telephone poles. A tree 30 ft away was missing one side of its top, and the other was fine. The branches weren’t all broken in the same direction. A house down the street had damage like a missing chimney, and the trees in that side of that yard were blown down in several directions. A telephone pole was pointed almost directly at the side of the house with the outline of a chimney, as if the wind had changed 180 degrees in a few feet. At a nearby construction site, sheet metal was bent around the metal frame like saran wrap and twistie-ties. A tornado is like a blender inside-out, with a debris field as blades.

This storm system was barely starting as I left on an hour-long drive south. Within 2 hours it was half-over.

Thursday ~ April 28, 2011 by b

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