The area we live in now doesn't see a lot of tornadoes. People always say that the bluffs protect us, and in the four years I've lived here, I've only heard the sirens go off once, about a month ago. That day we got some hail that damaged a lot of roofs and cars, but not much else. We watched it from our sun room.
We got home from our trip to the woods yesterday morning and Trevor went right to mowing the lawn. We unpacked, started laundry and other Sunday chores. We knew we were supposed to get rain, so I wasn't surprised when the sky started darkening. When Maya came downstairs and said there was a tornado watch and possibly a warning, I looked outside and the sky had a definite green cast to it. It started to rain heavily so I went up to the sun room where Trevor was as the sirens started.
We were just watching the rain and the wind when suddenly some wood and siding flew into our yard from another house. Trevor said "Oh shit, we need to go to the basement." Hearing him say that, I knew it was serious. He never worries about storms. I flew down the stairs and called for Maya to come to the basement. Trevor was right behind us. A few seconds later I felt pressure in my ears, like during take off and landing in an airplane. We waited downstairs until we heard the rain and wind die down some, then ventured up. It had been less than five minutes.
Luckily, our house was totally intact. We had some branches down, and a very large one on the roof, but we were very fortunate. Our street was one of the hardest hit areas. Once it was relatively clear, we went to have a look around. Most of the neighborhood was out, too.
Across the street.
Out surveying the damage.
Only a few houses down.
The large branch on our house. All of the branches were from the same tree. We're so lucky the whole thing didn't go. I'm sad about all of the old trees that were lost in our neighborhood. They are part of what makes the area so lovely. However, there were no lives lost and very few injuries. A lot of these uprooted trees would have caused major damage if they'd fallen on homes. Some homes are now unlivable, and I'm sure some will ultimately be declared total losses. The main feeling seems to be shock. People who have lived in this neighborhood for forty years say they've never experienced a storm like this.
As of right now (this post was written on Sunday night) the National Weather Service has not confirmed that the storm was a tornado. There is definite evidence that it was and at least one report from a police officer of actually seeing a funnel cloud touch down. There were two other tornadoes in the area, both EF1 strength. What amazes me is that those two, on the weaker side of the scale, could do so much damage and flip over cars. The one that hit Tuscaloosa was an EF4. I can't even imagine, and I'm so glad that the people I know who live there got through it safely.
UPDATE: The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down, however there is no news yet on the strength of the storm. It was the first tornado to touch down in La Crosse since 1966.
UPDATE 2: The storm was a category EF1.
UPDATE 3: The National Weather Service revised its findings and classified the twister as an EF2.
I'm reminded to not get comfortable in supposed security. Just because something is unlikely doesn't mean it's impossible.
Take care. I'll be back later with regularly scheduled posting. Maya also has a story to share about the storm.