Thursday, June 08, 2006


Instead of writing overly much about the tornado that scooted past our town night before last, I'll just show the pictures, shall I? We didn't see a funnel cloud, it was probably just over the hill, a few miles away. You could hear it, though. Not like a train as much as a moving rumble of thunder that was constant for 30 minutes or more, or the sound of the wind, loud through the window of a car as you speed along. Initially, the sound seemed to bounce from side to side, then concentrating dead ahead, then, finally, after a half an hour or so, faded quickly, closely followed by the end of the warning siren.

These first 3 are out back, looking Northwest, from where the tornado was coming. The air was terribly still and the dark grey tendrils from below the slate clouds were swirling and being rapidly sucked up into the cloud mass, like a reverse time-lapse film. Beyond erie. The only sounds were the roar of the storm a few miles away and some crying birds.

Ah. And so all cleared up out the back. Yes. Tornado is past. All clear. Warning lifted. Satellite looks good. TV weather guy is talking about other storm cells and our county goes from orange 'tornado warning' to yellow 'tornado watch'. Kids and mother-in-law up from the basement, with pets in tow. (Mad-kitty looking decidedly disgruntled as she had been confined to her carrier and not allowed to explore the bomb shelter room in the basement that is basically a small concrete bunker, where we store packaged foods, water, and wine. So it's a combination bomb shelter/wine cellar. Yes. We keep a cork screw along with the can opener and paper plates and plastic cups. If the world ends, we're going in style, baby.)

Molly needs to go out the front to pee. Look at the clouds that greeted us out the front door. The pictures just don't do justice.

Dead ahead, to the South:

And to the East, well, there were these two huge rolling clouds, the one on the left turning clockwise, the one on the right turning counterclockwise, barreling right into each other. Above our house. Yikes:

I mean, these were monsters:

Fortunately for us, they were monsters that were headed off to points elsewhere.

The skies cleared, this time for good. We finally got the kids to bed and curled up ourselves, still a bit buzzed from it all.

And then we went to sleep. The next morning, we heard there were somewhere in the vicinity of 2 dozen tornados that went through the state and that 20 houses in Columbia County (a few counties over) were severely damaged from the worst of them. I feel somewhat guilty about being so thrilled by the cool-factor of the storm, but I guess, since there's nothing that I can do to control such things, might as well enjoy what you can out of life.

And remember that the next time could be yours to lose a roof, or worse.



Blogger Teri said...

I love storms! There's something about the electricity in the air, the atmosphere, the vague sense of danger, the clouds that almost seem to be living, writhing things that makes me feel so alive.

We saw pictures of the damage in Columbia County on the news last night - but nothing about your neck of the woods. Your pictures are great! It must have been some storm.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pictures! Yet scary too. Glad the grand kids, Lilian, and the pets were in the shelter. Guess it would have been too much to ask for you to have been there too instead of out taking photos. I will trust your judgement and assume that you would have run for the basement if ....

1:23 PM  
Blogger moegirl said...

Awesome pictures. Must be quite a thing to experience a storm like that. Good idea to have the wine in the basement though...

4:06 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Teri- THAT'S IT EXACTLY! You feel completely alive. I don't think the one through here was much of one, thank goodness. It was enough.

Mum- You know our place. We can see for miles in that direction and could have been in the house and down in the basement with the doors shut in less than 30 seconds. Plenty of time to not make our kids orphans. It was moving 20 mph and we can easily see 5 miles away.

Stacy- It was not at all like I had pictured from the descriptions I'd heard. And yes, an excellent idea to keep the necessities in the bomb shelter, I thought. Wine, canned foodstuff and crackers. MmmmmBOY! Who'd want to leave?

9:41 PM  
Anonymous christie said...

I love a good storm, thunder, lightening, howling winds...the 'nado's, not so much. I take my comment months ago about no tornado's in your neck of the woods back, you win. And, err, your mum's right, what were you doing out there???? (but still, awesome photos)

10:22 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Those are fearsome clouds!!!!

I'm glad you risked your life to document them for us.

Also, glad that the storm went around you. Those clouds look like they were capable of much destruction.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, great pics. Much smaller than but something like the storm we experienced in So. Dakota after a trip your way - but we were in a 22 ft. motorhome in a campground. Could have used the shelter in the caretakers home if needed but didn't get that close to use. Still, it was spooky to see sheets of rain on the windows on one side of the motorhome and dry windows on the other side. That was the time the weather radio really paid off as we could track the storm on our map by their description.

Happy you are all safe and no damage done and that you have a place to go, just in case.


12:10 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...

Whoa is right. Those were some frightful clouds.

My hometown has been hit with tornados a few times. My family has always been lucky to avoid the damage (knock on wood) but I remember in the late 80's a tornado that literally sat on the ground not three miles from our home for 45 minutes. It was at a nature center and luckily damage to homes was not a concern. If my memory serves me correctly, it was one of the first tornados that was videotaped from helicopters. It just sat there and the news choppers just kept circling it. We could see it from our upstairs windows.

Storms are fascinating and scary at the same time. I'm glad to hear that you and your family came out good from this series.

5:02 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

I'm sure you feel very much alive as you fear you soon no longer will feel anything. I hate, hate, HATE storms, they make me want to hide under my bed and whimper, a tornado would surely give me a heart attack. That's one con on emmigration for me, a huge one. Am a bit nauseated just looking at the pics.

Now,NO MORE PICS, ever! Just stay in the bloody basement already! It's a tornado, woman, a tornado! They reaarange bodily parts, trans-species as well. Stay put!

8:56 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I too, love storms, but only when I know i'll be safe.lke not in the middle of the lake in our canoe!!
Unfortunately, I can't see any of your pics! This computer makes all pictures so much darker...(is only Windows '98..maybe that's it..or something on settings I have to change?)

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

Those clouds are incredible! And really beautiful. My dad is a pilot (small planes) and he always enjoyed showing me what clouds for a tornado look like, though I've never seen one in real life. I don't know if you remember the tornadoes that hit in Madison last summer, but one of them went right through the parking lot of Erik's work.

Could you smell the storm in the air? Were the pets acting strange? I always find those reports of the animals knowing when catastrophes or storms are coming before we do really fascinating.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

Incredible pictures, truly. I'm sure it was a thrilling, yet eerie, scary time. The fact that you grabbed your camera? Well....I might have done the same! It reminds me of a time in high school when a tornado literally went right down our street. My Mom actually got me and my brother (both teens at the time) to go down to the basement. Then she went back upstairs for something or other, and ended up standing in the front doorway, watching the funnel tear through our neighborhood. Her nosiness (curiousity) could have gotten her in big trouble had the tornado gone down OUR side of the street!

Thank goodness you and your family (and home) were unharmed.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Kate W. said...

Those are great pictures! Glad you had wine in the "bunker!" I knew you were a smart girl! It is cold and rainy here today- no excitement, just dreary!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Christie- Awww. You care. Actually, not quite as stupid as it sounds. We can see for miles around, here.

Rozanne- It was incredibly cool, thet's for sure. I'd have majorly regretted it had I missed it. And the risk really was minimal-to-none.

Cathy- See, your experience was much more potentially dangerous.

Johnny- Tcha! You worry too much about things off in the distance. I can run 50 feet faster than the tornado could cover 5 miles. No problemo. Hope this doesn't squelch Beth and DM's plans to get you to the MN State Fair some year?

Mother Of Invention- Well Hi! Nice to meet you. Sorry you arent' getting the pics to come through. They were taken just before and through dusk, so the light was a problem. A canoe? On a lake? With a tornado coming? YIKES!

Ariella- Sure, I remember last summer. I'm thinking it was also the set of storms that creamed Staughton, just to the south. As I understand, one tornado went right down Midvale. It was a right mess, but the city cleaned it up quickly.

Colleen- Wow. I'm not nearly in league with your mom. No freakin' way. I was horrified to see cars driving on the hill between us and the actual tornado. You could see their headlights. Fools.

Kate- You know it! It's best to be prepared. Always.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Beth- (sorry, got behind) Really? Just sitting there? How bizarre, but I guess that's better than the alternative. How cool!

1:28 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

wow! Got to see your pics on a good computer that could do them justice! Woo! "Aunty Em! Toto!"

And you've never seen me paddle so hard (in fact not at all! Ha!)as when there's a wicked electrical storm coming up quickly in the river valley where we stay in the log cabins in the summer! You are so a bone to be chewed,,,but you're does get the adrenaline going and proves you're alive!

Thanks for the visit..can't wait for those stones to start calling me! "Build it and they will come!" HA! HA!

4:58 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Does that ominous sentence actually mean there are tornadoes in Minnesota in the Summer? Seriously? You're pulling my leg aren't you. Please say you are.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

MoI- The cabins sound very cool! I'm assuming they are somewhere in the Canadian wilds? My husband was born in Ottowa (he's now 1/2 Canuck, 1/2 Yank).

Johnny- Dahling! Toronados? In Minnesota? In the summer? Perish the thought. (SSsssh, guys.) Would it help if I upped the ante by saying that I am eating a handful of strawberries I just picked from our patch? The patch near the raspberries? Mmmmmmm. Fresh berries, here. No tornados. At least not to mention.

7:05 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

When I was little, my mom had friends who lived in central WI. (She's from Mayville, if you've ever heard of it.) And it never failed, every time she crossed the state border back into WI, the sirens would start going off. When her friends' children heard she was coming, they'd head for the basement! I guess WI doesn't want her back...

And I was wrong about the tornado. It only stayed on the ground at that nature center for 16 minutes. I overestimated. But hey, I was 8 when it happened. I wish I could find pictures of it. The center has a display showing the footage from the helicopter. But for Johnny, um, yeah, Fridley is no where near here...

1:42 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Yes, these rustic log cabins were built by fire rangers in the 30's. Your husband would know where they are! (In Quebec in the Ottawa Valley!) We cross the Ottawa River at Deep River and enter province of Quebec....30 miles of bush roads takes our Pathfinder SUV 1 1/2 hours! Pretty rugged but very neat!

11:06 AM  
Blogger Udge said...

Very impressive; glad I wasn't there!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Beth- 16 minutes is still ages! (Yes, Johnny, Fridley is thousands of kms from it. Sorta.) Strange about your mom and the state of WI. At some point, you have to take it personally, don't you?

MoI- Let me first admit my spelling error. Charles mocked me for it and I wrote 'Ottawa' 100 times. For shame. I really am a wretched speller. Rugged, indeed! (Actually, Charles left Canada as a tot, but where we're from (Portland, Oregon, just to the west of the Cascade range--about 7 hours south of Vancouver.) there are lots of such cabins and forrest fire watch towers in Mt Hood Nat'l Forrest. My dad even spent a summer in one, watching for fires, as a college kid.

Udge- What doesn't kill you makes for good blog fodder...

9:10 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Tornadoes? In Minnesota? Pfft. Actually, I live downtown Saint Paul and we never seem to get them there. Gigantic thunderstorms with really cool lightning but that's about that. But Johnny's also afraid of heights so I don't think she'll want to hang out on the 26th floor. Sigh.

12:37 PM  
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1:48 AM  

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