Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sirens, Thunder and Hail

We’ve lived here in Midwestville (aka Tornado Alley) for almost a year and last night we experienced our first tornado-worthy storm.

I’d just gotten home from grocery shopping for the week, we were sitting town to watch a Tivo’d version of “The ‘Burbs’ “ with a cup of tea and a treat from the store, when the National Weather Service cut into Tivo. Initially, Hubster said “Oh, this must have been taped the other night when we had some really bad wind” and then we saw that it was “today” (as in yesterday because that’s when we were watching tv). And then we realized that we could hear the tornado sirens. (They test these every Friday at 11 am, so we know what they sound like).

We both stared at each other in a bit of shock and felt a flash of panic. We changed the channel to the news to see what was going on. All we could see was a band of RED headed right for us. We were warned of severe rain, thunder/lightning and hail with the possibility of a tornado.

We zipped outside to the deck tp take down the pergola cover and brought in any of the light furniture. As an afterthought, I grabbed a big pot of deep purple million bell petunias that I had out there. We both commented said how good it was that Tivo (ah, Tivo, can you do anything wrong?) could be interrupted for things like National Weather Service Announcements, and then we both noticed that we’d never actually experienced more than a test of those announcements before.

Then we came in to wait out the storm.

It only took about 5 minutes before the storm really hit us. We agreed that the safest room for us was our main floor bathroom. Hubster watched the storm advance from our bathroom window upstairs, until we could see the hail.

The wind picked up pretty strongly, and the hail sounded like a million hammers on all the walls and windows. To be extra careful, we brought the girls, who were sleeping, down into the bathroom.

They were a bit confused and then Mouse was upset and scared, but we just described what was happening and why (and then kicked our butts a bit for not talking about this SOONER!) . We listened to the hail and the update on the storm from the tv in the family room and watched the lightning light up the hallway through the front door. We noted that we should leave a flashlight in that bathroom.

And then it was done. It passed through, in about 10 minutes. The hail really only lasted a about 5 minutes.

When the hail was done, we went and looked out the windows to check it out. My stomach sank as I saw the carnage the hail had reaped on my front garden. The back seemed to be ok, I think because most of it is close to the house and the wind seemed to be hitting the front of the house. There were piles of hail, like marbles, at the ends of the drain pipes.

However, out front, the hostas are shredded, the impatiens pummeled, the begonias are battered and I don’t know if the cascading petunias by the door will make it. I walked out on the lawn to just look around, and my feet were numb after about 30 seconds because of the hail. Sigh. However, they’re plants, and I’m grateful that so far it seems like those are the only things that got damaged for us. And I’m very grateful that in the end, we did not get hit with a tornado.

The Garden Before - Perking along nicely:

The Hail:

The Aftermath:

The girls were a bit worked up, so we just let them sit with us for a while and I rocked Baboo back to sleep while we watched the news a bit more to see if we were in for more storms and Hubster surfed for weather radios. We were both a bit concerned because we could barely hear the tornado siren last night. We live near a fire station and train tracks, so we’re used to a lot LOUDER noise at night and would probably not even notice if the siren went off at night, and although we do know that’s rare, it does happen.

Apparently, there wasn’t TOO much damage in our area and most people came out ok. I think there was a small twister a north of us, but other than that, it was most just heavy rain and hail. Some areas got golf ball sized hail and while ours SOUNDED like basketballs when it was hitting the house, it was really mostly pea/dime sized.

When I was finishing up the groceries/errands last night, before the storm, I noticed that each time I came out of a store the sky was looking more ominous. When I was walking into Kohls, the last store, as I looked at the clouds, I wondered if this could be a tornado storm. A woman walking in front of me said “Wow! Looks like we’re in for a whopper of a storm.”

So, today we’ll survey the damage and likely take some time to vamp up our disaster preparedness and discuss plans a bit more. I do have some extra water/food put away in the garage, but we both would like to be better prepared and to have the girls be better prepared as well.

I know I’m sounding a bit dramatic (who? Me?) and really, I do know that we’re ok and knew we’d be ok last night. Neither of us have ever lived in a place where such damaging weather related disasters could happen on a regular basis. We’re used to 6ft of snow for 6 months, and ice and arctic temperatures, but tornados? Hmm, not so much. And when we lived in Eastcoastville, we were far enough inland that hurricanes weren’t really a problem, either.

Though, now that I think of it, I do remember experiencing a tornado before! I was about 8. We were at my grandparent’s house in the spring. (I think they had just come back from Florida before we moved North, is that right, Mum?) A bit storm came up and I remember watching a small tornado whip down the street, while standing by the front door. It ripped out the neighbors’ tree, across the street and made a huge mess. Weird. I hadn’t thought about that in a long time.

Anyway, we’re fine. And thankfully, most of the people around us are as well.

1 comment:

becprints said...

Hey- i was thinking about you guys when I heard the tornado news- glad to hear you're well! Your plants will rebound!