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.