Saturday, May 10, 2008

Yes, It Really Does Sound Like A Freight Train

Today was a rainy day, but mostly light rain. It was one of those rainy days that call for opening the windows for the cool breeze and cleaning the house to complement the fresh air. During coffee breaks I was entertained by the birds at our feeders. Even in the light rain the dozens of birds of all colors were paired up for the spring mating rituals, which appear to include a nice meal at the bird feeders then the male chasing his selected female into the trees. Hummingbirds crowded the feeders and sucked one dry. The orioles devoured three orange slices left laying on the deck railing for them. The friskiness and voraciousness of these birds was quite comical.

Later in the day the weather alert map popped up on the TV screen. Serious weather was on the way to southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. Suddenly, the serious weather turned into the "mother of all weather systems", according to one meteorologist. Tornadoes were already spotted and stayed on the ground for many miles. Also hail the size of softballs was pulverizing windshields and structures to the north of us. I have often spoken of and written about the phenomenon that usually shields our ridge from tornadoes. Usually. But when two weather systems collide over the ridge, it can get a bit exciting. That's what it did tonight at about 7:00.

I mentioned the behavior of the birds earlier because they are, most definitely, the best indicator of coming weather. The rain started coming down very heavily, but some birds remained on the feeders. We had already gone to the basement since a line of storms was reported to be very close. When the satellite feed went out, then the electricity, we used the birds as our weather radar. I looked out the patio door and the birds were gone. Then I heard the sound: a distant freight train. Time to move to the safe room, sort of...... Morbid curiosity had us sneaking a peak from across the room. The freight train sound was coming from over the top of the house now and the air outside was swirling with rain and unidentified stuff. Fortunately, this passed quickly. As soon as it seemed safe, we went outside to assess the damage. A piece of deck furniture was ripped apart, but no damage to the house. However, a trip to the front yard found our little tree snapped at the ground. This tree was featured in my post showing spring buds and lady bugs a few weeks ago. Here it is now:

The worst damage on our ridge was to the house up the road. Half of the roof was ripped off and landed in the front yard:

Across the road a beautiful tree snapped and landed several feet away. At this same house the central air conditioning unit (which sits on the ground) blew into the forest and has not yet been found.

Around the corner another tree was uprooted. These pics show the tree, a view from the broken end, the trunk at the break and the hole left behind:

Other trees were uprooted. This one was blocking our country road from the main highway. We are lucky that the developer of our little community also lives out here and he quickly put his front-loaders to work moving the tree and re-opening the road. In the shot here they are clearing a tree from their own drive.
Other trees will have to wait till morning, such as this one from the ravine that fell onto the new road next to the pond:

Meanwhile, back at our house, we found the orange slice that orioles were feasting on earlier, was still firmly sitting on the deck railing. The south and west walls of the house are plastered in leaves and grass.
We were extremely lucky here. Storms to the north of us were far more severe and have taken at least six lives as well as serious property damage. This line of storms was so strong and so fast that people all around our area are finding papers and pictures from as far away as Tulsa, about 200 miles away.

The skies are now clear, but the air is quite cool. The wind is blowing at about 20 mph, which happens quite often. But tonight the sound of the wind whining through the ravine is quite unnerving. It could be a restless night, but one with a sound roof over our heads.


Carmi said...

Thank goodness you came out of this OK. The storm system has been headline news in Canada all day and I've been praying the death toll stops rising. Twenty-two (as of now) is quite enough.

I'll go count my blessings now, as are you no doubt. Stay safe.

Linda said...

Hey sis,
Yikes! Looks like someone was trying to drop a house on your freaky neighbor! These Wizard of Oz comparisons are getting a little close, Terry already hangs around with a little person... next thing you know they'll be paving your street with yellow bricks!