Apparently, an F-0 tornado doesn’t necessarily lead to a yellow brick road

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the saying, and it has been nothing short of interesting around here.

I’ve spent my whole life living along what is known as “Tornado Alley,” and spent a childhood thankful that I had a basement bedroom.  Ever since I saw that episode of Little House on the Prairie where Laura foolishly leaves the safety of the storm cellar to fetch the cat, I was plagued (ok, moderately annoyed) by occasional nightmares about a funnel cloud coming for me and mine. Should it happen while I was asleep, I reasoned, at least I was already in the basement, and therefore, safe.

And yet, in spite of “the big one” that brought down the local curling club back in 1974, an event I was too young to imprint, and in spite of summer after summer of at least one scarily-green sky, I’ve been lucky enough to escape seeing, or experiencing, a tornado close up.

Until last week, when one dropped into the neighbourhood. Like, two blocks away. Before my very own eyes.

I was reading on the porch, and felt the wind pick up. It had been a very breezy day, so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. I leaned forward over the railing when I thought I saw a flash of lightning to see if there would be another one. At the same time, a very loud roaring sound began.

We’re in the flight path of some very large cargo jets, so even then, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. (can you imagine how wiggy I was after 9/11?) Except it got louder. And, Lost addict that I sadly am, I looked over to the water tower, suddenly convinced that a plane was about to crash.

As I looked at the skyline, watching for the errant plane of my imagination, a whirling cloud of debris appeared in the air. Not a funnel cloud, or a storm cloud – a DEBRIS cloud. My thought process went like this:

There are pieces of wood – LARGE pieces of wood – in the air. Large pieces of wood don’t belong in the air. Did a plane crash? DEAR DOG IT’S A TORNADO.

I ran inside shouting, and The Man shooed us toward the basement. Except, one problem: The Baby had gone out riding her bike ten minutes before.

So while my 12-year-old was a block away doing her Dorothy Gale impression, riding hell-bent for home, we her parents were playing Uncle Henry and Auntie Em and shouting her name at the top of our lungs on the lawn.

The whole thing lasted about ten minutes, just long enough to be scared silly. Dorothy sped up the sidewalk, raced for the basement and we could hear it end as we dashed in the front door ourselves. There was a light rain for a few minutes and later, we walked over to take some pictures of where it hit – TWO blocks away.

I kept describing it to the kids as "it ripped the roof off the beer store!" Alas, it has not been the beer store in their lifetime, and is currently a union hall. The roof, or parts of it, as you can see, is lying in the road. The building belong to the roof is on the right.

I kept describing it to the kids as "it ripped the roof off the beer store!" Alas, it has not been the beer store in their lifetime, and is currently a union hall. The roof, or parts of it, as you can see, is lying in the road. The building belong to the roof is on the right.

This guy's front windows were all smashed, I think from flying debris. The yellow stuff is insulation from the beer store roof, and yellow bits were scattered as far as six blocks away.

This guy's front windows were all smashed, I think from flying debris. The yellow stuff is insulation from the beer store roof, and yellow bits were scattered as far as six blocks away.

I think this was soffit from the roof.

I think this was soffit from the roof.

I live two blocks on the oppostie side of this water tower. Close call!

I live two blocks on the oppostie side of this water tower. Close call!

It took three days before Environment Canada was willing to call it a tornado for sure, and it came in at F-0, the lowest rating possible. However, it was plenty of excitement for me, and if I never see another one, that’ll be okay.

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One Response to “Apparently, an F-0 tornado doesn’t necessarily lead to a yellow brick road”

  1. Angelica Says:

    “soffit from the roof” is actually guard rail from the alley =)

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