Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Twisters, Texas Style! The Destructive Dozen (Photo/Video)

360 Power Lines
Quarter mile from me a power line was hit

Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, the windiest place in the country, tornados were as common as prairie dogs. Most I remember seeing was six in one night as I stood in the parking lot of the hotel restaurant where I worked as a busboy. They came in all shapes and sizes, some skinny, some darker but all skirting the city limits.

That probably imbued me with an unhealthy disregard for the destructive power of tornados. So when I heard the sirens go off about 1:15 I just thought to myself, "Big Woo! It's windy!" I needed to put my car in the shop and gave a big "Meh!" to the weather as I drove on in. Different story when I got to the dealership!

360 Power Lines Pole

Everyone was gathered around the TV in the waiting area. I saw pictures of trailers thrown into the air like toys from an angry child. The radar also showed rotations headed RIGHT FOR US! Keeping my emotions in check I knew this would be the worst possible time to drive back. Leaving my kitten alone to face the storm was killing me. But the rain had stopped, turning ominously quiet. That's when tornados strike.

Once again I found myself in a parking lot looking up into the sky. Grey green clouds swept rapidly around us as the dark fingers of God edged downward in the distance. Would the funnel come down? This time the answer was no. When the rain returned I pulled my car out of the service bay and blazed my way home to find kitty safe and sound. 45 minutes later I had to watch as another rotation alert and hail came through but that too was without serious incident.

360 Power Lines Sign
Perhaps the twister was on its way to I-Hop

When the radar cleared and the skies turned less violent I decided to investigate my city's "state of disaster" as deemed by the mayor. It was then I discovered how close a funnel had briefly touched down when I saw the snapped power line pole shown above. Radar had been more accurate than I thought.

360 Power Lines Sky
Safe to venture out

I headed to the storm area most affected by me and was surprised by the extreme lack of rush hour traffic. Don't know what to attribute that to. But I was grateful! Telltale signs soon revealed I was getting close. Tornados HATE signs telling them what to do!

Green Oaks Sign A

Bardin Sign

360 Power Lines Yield

When touring a tornado ravaged area, certain themes arise. First one is fences. It looked as if a rampaging 100-foot giant had stomped his way through not caring what sort of chaos he left behind. Fences were certainly no obstacle!

Green Oaks Fence A

Green Oaks Fence B

Bardin Fence Flat

It's also a great way to check out the neighbors' backyards!

Bardin Rampage

Bardin Backyard

Bardin Fence Flat 2
New fence! He was just asking to get hit!

Another theme, of course, is downed trees. The angry giant pushed them to the side making its way through in unstoppable fury. Where they may land he cared not.

Some came to rest on nearby objects...

Bardin Tree Roof

Bardin Tree Fence

Bardin Tree Rest

Some rudely blocked driveways and streets!

Bardin Driveway Trees 2

Bardin Driveway Trees

Bardin Driveway Trees A
Try getting that car out!

Not that you could go anywhere...

Bardin Tree Block A

Downed power lines are another fun distraction.

Bardin Power Lines

Bardin Power Lines Wrapped

Bardin Transformer

Bardin Power Lines Snapped

Another tree theme is ones that just plain got their ass kicked! Either mangled...

Green Oaks Mangled

Bardin Cracking

Green Oaks Mess

...or uprooted

Green Oaks Uprooted

Bardin Uprooted

Police were onsite, blocking auto access due to the dangerous conditions. I also heard talk of a curfew in the area most likely to prevent looting.

Green Oaks Cops

Bardin Cops

They also marked houses as ones too dangerous to enter.

Bardin XAPD

Bardin Disaster XAPD

For some, the healing started right away, tarping roofs and cutting the trees down to size.

Bardin Tarping

Bardin Tarp

Bardin Firewood

Bardin Scavenger A
Picking out belongings. I heard one kid say, "It's like a scavenger hunt."

Streets were like a war zone, scattered debris everywhere.


Bardin Debris 2

Bardin Shingles

Some houses were hit harder than others.

Bardin Disaster

Bardin Disaster Roof

Bardin Disaster Back Zoom

A curious anomaly about tornados is that one spot can be a total disaster and a spot close by appear to be completely untouched (this is more apparent on the video).

Here we have a tale of two trees. The one on the foreground is fine, a board ripe for picking still inlaid among its branches. Behind it another tree is severed, its amputated branch seemingly clinging for dear life

Green Oaks Two Trees

Or even amidst this total devastation a bird feeder still hangs from a tree waiting to perform its duty.

Bardin Disaster Bird Feeder

Fortunately there were no deaths in the tornado strikes. But a human toll does exist in material loss. We all need a home for those most precious.

Bardin Girl

Click here to see the whole set

Preliminary Stats:

6-12 tornados

650 homes/buildings damaged

Hundreds of flights cancelled. 110 planes suffer hail damage.

Zero dead, 18 injured.

Some areas suffered far worse damage than shown here, houses completely leveled, cars tossed around, belongings literally gone with the wind. Considering the wind, the hail and the twisters, I'd say we got lucky. Nothing so humbling as Mother Nature!

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