Friday, August 19, 2005

Everybody Here Is All Right

I'll update, as now the news is getting out about how much damage was done by these tornados, and people are emailing me.

The worst of the storms went just north and just south of Madison. I hardly had any wind, just heavy rain. The tornado sirens went off four times in an hour. I used to be an EMT so I listened to the emergency radio traffic to hear about the damage, and in southern Dane county it was a swath at least 11 miles long. Houses have been flattened, crops destroyed, power lines down everywehere. People were describing a wedge-shaped tornado that threw debris for miles, and people were reporting finding paper and building debris sixty miles to the east (including TJ, who commented on my last post). A retired meteorologist who had worked in Oklahoma called into the news station I was watching and said that he saw the tornado, and it resembled the ones that hit Oklahoma City several years ago, and he guessed it was at least an F3.

The television meteorologists have a neat new technology that allows them to see the direction of the wind on the radar screen. It shows up as red pixels in a sea of green pixels when the wind is rotating, the red being the wind moving one direction and the green another. This is what the National Weather Service means when they say "radar indicates a possible tornado". The meteorologist I was watching would highlight an area where he said there was possible rotation, and within minutes the siren would sound and there would be a report of a tornado. It was amazing, and I believe that it probably saved lives, because up until that point all the attention was focused on the storms to the north, as they had a history of serious damage (the wind took out nearly every tree in one small town). Stoughton is to the south, and an hour previous looked like it was barely going to get rained on.

Anybody looking to donate, the Badger chapter of the Red Cross is helping the victims.


Mouthy Mom said...

Tornados, hurricanes, oh my! Glad you fared well!

Mouthy Mom

Jen said...

Wow, I had no idea tornados were a danger in Madison. Here, yes, you need to know what to do when the sky turns yellow and it sounds like a train is coming directly at you, but in Madison? Was this just a fluke or are tornados regular occurences there?

Anonymous said...

Not as bad as Kansas or Amarillo, but actually worse than Houston, Jen. I've been through more tornato warnings in a year here than I had in eight years of living in Harris County. Interestingly enough, if you go above the Canadian border, they're no longer a problem.


mommyguilt said...

oh thank Goodness! I had no idea that you were in that area! I'm glad to hear that you are alright. Thankfully, I've always had the good fortune to not have to experience much more than a very scary storm.

Well, I'm very happy that you and yours are just fine!