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We're not in Kansas anymore...

I’m running a bit behind on the news here – let’s talk a little bit about last week. Wednesday, to be specific. Wednesday afternoon, to be very specific.

At 4:00pm, I didn’t know that there was a tornado warning covering the town where I live and the town where I work – that is until my coworker who lives in Bristol beeped me. Her mother and daughter were headed for the basement, and that was only about two miles from my house. So I pulled up a radar screen, looked out the window, and called my husband – he was on his way to pick up Charlotte at day care. I encouraged him to move quickly and keep the TV tuned to the weather. While all of this was going on it started getting very dark here. Normally the bad weather rolls in from behind the bulk of the building where I can’t really see it until I’m outside. If you’ll remember from the day of the goose, I sit right next to a large plate glass window, which faces probably a little north of west. This particular storm rolled down through Bristol and Southington and right into my window. It got dark really, really fast. I probably shouldn’t have been standing right in the window with that sort of weather rolling in. As a matter of fact, I know that I shouldn’t have been – apparently security issued a warning to that effect. Of course, the public address at this end of the building hasn’t worked for at least two years (the company and the landlord have been having a pissing contest over whose responsibility it is to fix it), so Frank was talking to himself again. Not that it would have mattered – I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sky.

That was the second scariest sky I have seen in my life. Some folks on my flist will remember the scariest one I’ve seen – it was the year that I almost blew away onto I-79 with the tarp, and went hypothermic in the aftermath. But I was too damn busy trying to keep the camp from blowing away during that storm to be afraid of it – this one I just stood and watched it roll in.

There were a lot of things going on in that sky on Wednesday. The word “rotation” is not inappropriate. At one point I was looking up into a section of cloud that looked like a pot of water on a rolling boil – that’s the sort of convection that was happening. It was terrifying. It was beautiful. It sounds insane, but I was wishing that I could be outside so that I could feel it and smell it. It was the stuff that religious experiences are made of. As the Discovery Channel says, the world is just awesome.

I was not, however, stupid enough to leave the building. I also gave some thought to a strong spot, given that we don’t have access to the basement.

Shortly after, the clouds opened and we had a downpour of brief duration but spectacular proportions. Then by 5:00 it had all basically cleared off. All that was left was the drive home through the storm track.

It was not a fun drive home. I had to go lengthwise through two of the towns that had taken the brunt. I did pretty well at the beginning. I decided to stay on the back roads on the theory that back roads would allow me to detour if I needed to, but once I committed to the highway I would be trapped. I had to drive around several downed trees, and more disturbingly I drove over two sets of downed wires before I realized that they were there. It was raining again at that point, and the visibility sucked – especially when the wires were tangled up in the tree that you’re trying to maneuver around. The one stupid thing that I did intentionally was drive through the flooded spot. I know that road well enough to know that it was going to be a low spot with a blocked storm drain, and I got a feel for the depth watching the two vehicles in front of me go through first. The engine sputtered once and I had a belt squeal a bit, but there were no ill effects. Probably the cleanest the undercarriage has been in a while. Everything was going fine until I got to route 229 north, which was just crawling along. I bailed to the south, and took a different set of roads that would take me around where I suspected the problem was. Judging by the debris field that’s still there, I gather that the intersection of 229 and 72 was probably pretty thoroughly covered with greenery. Either that or the river flooded. I’ll probably never know. There were a few more downed trees to deal with, and I got home to an intact house with power. I cleaned out our storm drain, but the second cell missed us entirely. Probably for the best.

Lots of the roads I use were still closed the next day, and on Friday the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado. I wonder sometimes how they do that – they use the damage patterns to make that determination, and given how quickly the chain saws come out in New England after these storms I sometimes think we’re wiping out the evidence too quickly. But obviously they manage.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little disappointed. I was kind of hoping that some of the deadwood would have come down out of the oak trees at home. If they fall in a storm, it’ll be a few days of inconvenience and a hundred dollars or so to have Comcast and AT&T come out and put the lines back up. A tree service is going to be close to a thousand. Oh well. Maybe next year I’ll be able to afford the tree service.

Next, I’ll tell the story of last weekend’s Great Knotweed Eradication Project.

[You write like: Arthur C. Clarke]



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
Some folks on my flist will remember the scariest one I’ve seen – it was the year that I almost blew away onto I-79 with the tarp,

Yes I remember comparing notes on where the nearest ditch was as we watched the rotation go directly overhead at that particular encampment. I wasn't aware that you were in the area that the tornado when through but I'm glad you were safe and not damage done to your property.

You might consider getting a small portable weather band if the building's own system can't get an alert to you in a timely manner. Besides that would also give you one to use when camping.
Jul. 28th, 2010 01:21 am (UTC)
Yes, that was quite a year. I remember looking up at the sky in EK royal and high-tailing it back to secure camp. I still describe that sky as "curdled." It's the only word for it.

I've looked at the weather bands for Pennsic in the past, but they're scary expensive, and there's always been something higher on the priority list (rightly or wrongly.) If there's a hint of weather, I tend to keep the NOAA radar in an open window on my desktop, so I pretty much know what's happening. My coworkers tend to come to me, because they know that I'll know. Besides, in the fall we'll be back in Bristol with the rest of the company and we won't have the problem any longer. Or so we're told.
Jul. 28th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
Go to Radio Shack. They have a radio for about $50 that runs on batteries but you can also crank it for power. It gets the usual radio stations, plus local TV and a weather band or two. I got mine in the middle of the big ice storm a couple years back and it's come in handy a couple times.
Jul. 29th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
That could be a good option - thanks!
Jul. 30th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
I checked Radio Shark's website and they didn't list the one I have. But I'm sure the local Shark has something similar. It's nice to be able to get the local news when you've got no power, and weather reports on the other channel.
Jul. 28th, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
I've seen skies like that, they're fascinating and terrifying all at once. Despite a hell ride home, I'm glad your family and house is okay.
Jul. 29th, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
I've had worse rides in some ice storms, but it still wasn't a lot of fun.

It's strange, but I kind of want to see that again. It was exhilarating in an imprudent sort of way. :-)
Jul. 30th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
Oh, me too. I grew up right on Rte 495 and that's the rain/snow/sleet line AND my parents' house is atop the 2nd highest hill in their town. A few times I couldn't make it up in the car and had to park it and hoof it home. Fun, only you know, not.

Then the ice storm of a few years ago. Eep. I NEVER want to go through that again. EVER.
Jul. 30th, 2010 02:18 am (UTC)
Oh yeah - ice. Give me an old fashioned lake effect snow storm ANY time. I loathe ice storms. Although they *are* awfully pretty.
Jul. 30th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
We were up at Bull's Bridge with our Danish visitor when the heavens opened up. I expect he'll have some dandy stories!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )