Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wind and Hail and Chaos

Quite a vicious little storm we had last night in Omaha. When the tornado sirens went off just after 5 pm, the sky looked perfectly fine to me. Within two minutes, I saw the dark cloud on the horizon. Two minutes later, I realized how incredibly fast that dark cloud was moving. Just as I decided to close my windows, the insanely powerful wind hit. It blew my window pane out of its tracks just as I put my hands on it. Thankfully, it did not break, and I was able to wedge it back into its tracks and get it shut. After I closed all of the windows, I retreated to the next room to watch from a distance. (I have no storm shelter. The "basement" of my apartment complex is full of windows and glass doors.) Visibility was zero. Then a sustained burst of horizontal hail hit the building like a sandblaster.

Behold my shredded window screen. All those little white blotches are holes. Notice also how it's too dirty to see through. The rain and hail were filthy with windborne dust.

I'm just lucky that the glass didn't break. A friend and former coworker lost three windows and a tree at her house.

As suddenly as it had begun, the storm was over, and everything was perfectly peaceful. The total duration was perhaps less than ten minutes. From what I've heard on the news and talking to people on the phone, the damage is very widespread. All of Omaha, and presumably any other town hit by this storm, is an absolute mess.

I lost power during the storm, but regained it about 4:15 this morning. OPPD obviously worked all night. I heard chainsaws around 1:00 am, which I assumed was them chopping up the trees that had fallen on power lines. I hear that quite a lot of homes in Omaha are still without power this morning. So I got lucky again.

So here are a few pictures, all within a block of my home.

It looks like a lovely lake, but this is Turner Street and the park.

The water levels were down when I took my walk around the neighborhood, but Dewey Street had obviously been flooded enough to wash this hunk of asphalt over the curb and onto the grass.

Here are some downed lines.

The Lutheran church next door lost a tree.

So did the folks across the street.

Look at the way this metal signpost was twisted, then bent flat against the ground.

Even more than an hour after the storm had passed, the hailstones were still piled thick on the ground.

It was quite an event. The timing of the storm was especially bad, as so many people were just getting off work. Also, great crowds of people were out in the open for the Summer Arts Festival, the concert at Memorial Park, and Shakespeare on the Green. I've heard the Summer Arts Festival was utterly destroyed, and that people who were at Memorial Park and the Green were badly bruised from the hail.

What a mess.

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