Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dodging the Tornado

A Central Virginia farm snapped this picture of the evolving tornado yesterday. This was on the news.

                         We have been experiencing very hot days recently. They have been so hot that despite taking steps to keep the chickens cool, we have lost a few of them to heat stress. This is unusual.   When it's hot and humid like this, I find it hard to exchange air normally, and it cuts down what I can do here, until it's cooler.   We began getting automatic notifications for a Severe Thunderstorm Warning around lunchtime, for the afternoon.  Meteorologists often complain that people do not take such warnings seriously, but it can be hard in Virginia. Often from May through September, it is oppressively hot, often with significant thunderstorms often daily. Many of these storms come on quickly, and it cannot always be predicted as to whether these suddenly forming thunderstorms will result in a tornado or damaging hail.
                          Yesterday, my husband was at work, one of our sons was at the college, one son was in the workshop working,  James was here completing his work for final exams, in anticipation of his last year of high school, and our daughter was here working from home and on a conference call.  The television flashed a tornado warning for our area.   There was absolutely torrential downpour, with a purple sky, and wind which knocked over even my white painted iron garden benches.    And then, it was gone from here as quickly as it came, and a few minutes later, the heat was returning once again, along with the hot sun.
It was a peculiar and rapid storm, but other than leaves and branches down, we and our animals were fine.
                          Within the next half hour or so, the group having the conference meeting with our daughter over the phoneline lost power, and so they concluded their meeting.  Then, my husband called to tell us that he was evacuating his office though remaining in his building because there was an incoming tornado.  By then, the news said that there were numerous tornado sightings, and that 147,000 customers in Central Virginia were without power.
                           Since the storm was over at this location, and internet weather sites indicated that we were not due for more at this location, I was anxious to head to Stephanie's new house, and make sure that she was as lucky.  She has not yet closed on it, and it would be just our luck to have tornado damage before closing on a new home !   I told everyone here where I was going, and then I carefully headed to Stephanie's house.  By then, the weather was sunny once again, and hot enough that I needed to use the air conditioning in the car.  By the time I got to Stephanie's house, I could see that many homes had not been as fortunate as ours.  Although Stephanie's house had downed tree limbs which I dragged off her driveway to the woods,  and lots of green leaves on her roof, which will ultimately clog her gutters, her home was fine.   As I headed up the road to the post office, the damage was striking.  Large oaks were twisted and thrown as if by a massive mixer.  The minister's rural home had two large trees on its roof and the two sheriff's deputies were there.  Then, I could travel no more.  A downed power line prevented any more travel.  I did what the officer asked and led all the people behind me, the way I had come, and then beyond that point, all the way to another entry point on the interstate highway.  With all the stopping and starting to avoid downed trees, this took about forty five minutes.
                        Daniel was frightened of tornadoes. We have had our share, and it's one of the reasons the house was built with an tornado resistant basement to 160 mph.   I remember when we were building this house, and we were waiting for one of the contractors to meet us here for something.  At that point, only the basement was built, and the framing of the house would be next.  All at once a small tornado came, and Daniel, Matthew and I had to hide in the corner of the roofless basement underneath rolls and rolls of foil and bubble wrap style insulation until the tornado passed.

This is not near our area, but someone from the Mechanicsville area of Richmond sent this to Channel 6 News, and it is characteristic of the type of damage many people in our area have.

                        Today, many of our friends are off work repairing their homes, their trees, or waiting for tree men to clear trees a,nd for internet, phone and electricity to return. There is now confirmation that this was indeed a tornado, and not simply wind shear, as we often also experience.   There is a lot of damage in our county, especially to some of the most ancient and beautiful trees.   I hear that part of Richmond's baseball Diamond collapsed, and that the roof of a few large buildings is gone.   It's only June.  The season is just beginning.  Sometimes, there are things I am glad Daniel will miss experiencing here.


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