Friday, 21 August 2009

From Star Fall to Tree Fall

My friends to the south have the sense to take proper precautions when active weather approaches. However, being a wide-eyed innocent when it comes to disasters, I react in a different manner.

When I arrived home from work yesterday afternoon I heard an ominous rumble to the west. Yup, another storm a'comin'.

We have several estimates out to have our eavestroughs replaced but in the meantime we have to batten down the hatches every time a thunderstorm approaches. My husband and I placed a sheet of plastic across the front of the house and made sure the fireplace was equipped with buckets. Since our Shop Vac is on the fritz, I didn't want to deal with a wet floor and wringing out towels and Sham Wows.

Sure, it burns calories but who needs that kind of exercise?

I parked myself near the living window to watch the rain and wind lashing the trees. I didn't have a good view of the sky (too many trees) but every flash and boom made me go, "Ohhh.. that was a good one!"

I had no idea things were serious until the Weather Channel started talking tornadoes. They're rare around these parts - maybe ten F2s per year, but yesterday there were about five funnel clouds or suspected tornadoes in one afternoon.

The first was northwest of here, in Durham. Several people were injured at a day camp, and one 11 year old boy was killed by flying debris.

A large cell went through Vaughan, southwest of my location. 600 homes were damaged, with about 60 deemed unsaveable. Minor injuries, but no deaths reported.

The same cell traveled east and curled north, just missing the centre of my town. A tornado touched down at a local riding academy east of here, where a show was in progress. Witnesses say trailers were overturned and a pony was lifted with all four feet off the ground. A young rider gripped her horse's lead while a section of arena roof tore away above their heads. Nobody was hurt at that location.

I love storms. The power of weather is awesome to me, and the photographer and writer in me wants to absorb every moment. In another life I would have been a storm chaser. I had to resist the urge to run outside to take pictures. If we were forced to hide in the basement, I had my little mini lappy all ready to record my moment-to-moment experience.

Once when we were kids, my sister stood in front of our picture window and shouted,
"I LOVE the lightning!" and a bolt struck the house across the
street with a giant fireball. The lights went out, everyone screamed, the dog ran under the couch and my grandmother missed the bathroom by about two feet and ended up in the hall closet.

When I was a teen, the trees in front of our house were small so we could see across the street. A lightning strike caused a phenomenon called "St. Elmo's Fire" - a ball of fire rolling across the ground.

Later, when my daughter was a baby, we were driving in the countryside when a massive cold front rolled in and caught us unprepared. We parked the car as close to a ditch as we could and hunkered down. Before the storm hit my husband and I brought out our cameras and captured images of a solid wall of blackness careening across the sky. This was before the digital era so all I have are some slides and negatives somewhere.

My daughter sat in her car seat in the shaking vehicle, her brown eyes wide. She was only a little nervous, probably because her mommy and daddy were so calm. I guess our fear of mortality hadn't set in yet. Even today she sits in her room during storms, ignoring the call to round up the cat and dog and hit the basement.

I saw a funnel cloud try to form while we watched from the observation deck of the CN Tower in Toronto. I've never really seen a tor
nado with my own eyes, but I dream about them all the time. I wonder what that means?

The house (and the fireplace and the basement) survived yesterday's onslaught. I had visions of our office being carried away overnight, but alas I had to report to work this morning. Sigh. We have one tree split in half by a wind shear last week, but it's safely tucked into the crook of another tree. We'll call the tree guy after the eavestroughs are done.

Our problems are miniscule compared to the many famil
ies in Vaughan and those who lost a little boy in Durham. My prayers go out to them.

When all is said and done, I'm rather thankful we live in a section of town where nothing ever happens - except, of course, for the

In the meantime we plan to take advantage of a rare weekend of sun and hit the beach. Unless, of course, there's a storm.


Barbara Martin said...

I wondered how you fared and am glad you and your family are well. There was just wind-whipped rain gusts providing a new development of watching layers of rain fly sideways, and sheet lightning near Lake Ontario where I live. The only other place I've seen 'sheet lightning' is on the prairiers during a large thunderstorm with tornado possibilities.

I've also seen small to good-sized funnel clouds during storms, and once during a motor vehicle trip to North Carolina I observed the irregular path of a funnel through a farmer's field and woods.

Southwestern Ontario does get tornados, just not often as it's not considered part of Tornado Alley.

Tornado/cyclone dreams mean not to take any financial risks for six months.

Ellie Heller said...

I love watching storms too, and miss my house in Ohio which had a view straight west at approaching storms. Watching the lightning get closer, and closer and closer... loved it.

Glad to hear you are safe and so sorry to hear about the tragedy the storm caused.

Liane Spicer said...

Have to admit I love storms, although I totally lost my temper a couple years ago when my son wanted to go surfing during a hurricane warning.

I don't like lightning, though. Electrical storms make me run for cover, especially since I lost a student to a lightning strike some years ago.

BernardL said...

Very exciting post - it reminded me of the many cellar visits in my Ohio childhood. I saw a funnel on my way to the cellar one afternoon touch down in the woods behind our house. The brief glimpse was imprinted forever. My Dad picked me up from the airport when I arrived home on leave from the service a few days after funnels touched down all over the hometown. He drove past our neighborhood store a few blocks from our house. All that was left of it was the foundation. I admit I don't miss those storms living in California. :)