Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Beast Stalks the Midwest

Typical Midwest tornado season usually begins in March. This year the Midwest started its season on January 7 with 12-15 hours of watches, warnings and actual touch-down beasts.

I live in an area hit far less than others. But life on the edge of this cross-state, diagonal nightmare wasn't fun either.

The weathercasters were great. They skipped regular programming and stuck with Doppler radar, minute by minute, revising when necessary.

The Beast was held in place by high winds, striking once, then circling back to strike the same place again and again. Mobile home parks were the worst hit and some brick and mortar homes leveled in The Beast's path. Hail the size of softballs was reported, but consistent high winds, rain and hail continued through almost 15 hours.

The Beast wasn't kind and First Responders couldn't get into help in some areas--because a second tornado made that impossible. Shelters sprung up and forecasters (some of whom were showing fatigue and sounding scratchy) gave regular instructions on tornado safety, bless them.

A tornado is a picky sort of beast, chosing its own whimsical path. However, the general warnings that it was coming had come days before, Jan 3 or 4th, I believe.

Unusual timing? I'd say so, when the Midwest is typically battling snow and watching its road salt supply. Or perhaps its just good old ice pulling down our telephone or electric lines. (Last year, an ice storm disabled a whole regional, breaking down trees, and leaving area homes and businesses without electricity.)

But oh, no. Not January 2008.

I wonder if these are the times in which heroes spring forth, putting life and limb above their own. Newscasters and weather spotters were doing their best. Some had to seek shelter quickly when the Beast snarled and turned on them. Firemen, police, and God-Bless-Em Everyday People were all out there, working to save people, pets and property. Electric companys had full crews out in the midst of it, some chain saws running in the interims, to clear roads and powerlines.

It was a long, scary night. In this area, watches/warnings/tornadoes ran from around 4 in the afternoon of January 7th, until the last one (undocumented) at 5 in the morning on the 8th. It's suspected by some that there were far more tornadoes than reported; during the night, they simply couldn't be seen.

This morning, I picked up a few tree limbs, the neighbor's shingles and mourned a small broken maple. Our neighborhood was without power from one strike at 2:30 a.m. until 10 a.am. We walked around, talking to each other and mourned the lack of electricity for our morning coffee.

Small price, but the hours were scary just the same. Others were completely devastated and lives were lost.

January 8th, 2008. Remember it. Prepare and remember the heroes.

9 comments:

BethRe said...

Kate,
I'm glad you are OK sounds very scary

BethRe said...

You think I could atleast spell your name correctly, sorry about that man what a nitwit

Jill said...

Here in Lamar we dodged that Beast. We were right on the border of the tornado box and the thunderstorm box. Got neither. Unlike in Dec when our entire town was without power. We were without for 5 days. Kind of like Springfield last January.

The weather is just weird.

Jill

Cait London said...

Hey, Beth. I answer to almost anything :) Thanks for writing.

Hi, Jill. My daughter and family went 2 weeks plus without power in last January. They live in the country and it took the power people forever to clear away the trees. We weren't hit at all. I did the cook and deliver, etc. but it was scary driving beneath those icy, sagging powerlines up to their place. We had high winds today, which didn't help the people without shingles from the tornado.

Lisa said...

Cait:

Was just reading your blog, I live in Illinois and we have also had quite the weather mess. We also had tornadoes the other day and now we are dealing with flooding. Glad to hear all is well where you are. Keep the folks in Watseka and Pontiac, Illinois is your thoughts. They've got a tough road ahead of them.

Cait London said...

Hi, Lisa.
I think about all that were hit.

I wonder if this beast is a forerunner of even worse times. This was the first time that my small neighborhood has had any damage, except the golf ball sized hail a couple of years ago. I did go to the basement that time and they sounded like bombs on my house. Did some damage, too. Roofers were really busy all over the whole area.

It's noteable that the usual tornado season should be much later. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Debbie Wallace said...

We had a tornado touch down close to our home a few years ago, will never forget that sound!

Jody said...

Cait
With over three feet of snow still on the ground we had tornados touch down in the southeastern part of Wisconsin, about 42 homes were destroyed with many others damaged. Very unusual for us to have thunder and lightening storms let alone tornadoes and 60 degree weather in the first weeks of January but at least it took the layers of dirty brown snow away. Here we are a week later with close to -degree weather knocking at the door and at least a few feet of new snow. Weird weather we all are having.

Cait London said...

Jody,
Right here, we didn't get the first "train" of tornadoes. The predicted second train did damage, but not nearly as severe as northward in MO and where you are. We haven't had snow yet, but it's predicted on Wed.

I agree that this weather is weird. One day we had 67 degrees, two days later, it was something like 34. Back and forth snow melt is going to make for some ice beneath the snow and treacherous driving.
Very unusual weather. Last year, our fruits and gardens didn't do well due to the early warmth and late frosts. We usually have pumpkin fields all around--not last year.