Our summer finally arrived and it came in with a roar. Normally by now we've had the super hot days of 30C but this year it's been chilly and oddly dry. Yesterday and the day before were good and hot, with the risk of thundershowers. And the thunderstorm was a doozy.
The boys, S and I were watching a movie as the first storm blew in last night. That one was really nothing. The winds were high enough to grab the screen doors and blow them open and closed, which is pretty normal. My screen door latches are broken. When the movie was over I took a better look outside and saw the ground was wet, but only patchy wet. I had been wishing Mother Nature would water my sweet peas for me, but that wasn't enough moisture to do the job. Across my alley my neighbors had their fire pit going, burning a bunch of leftover supplies from building their deck. They were both sitting in their lawn chairs tending the fire, which was good. I don't like it when I see a fire pit unattended. The air was calm, hot, and muggy. I looked over to the northwest to see if the sky was clear (that was where the wind had been coming from) and saw a huge purple cloud not too far away. Odd. If the wind had come from there the cloud would be gone. I looked to the northeast and saw dark clouds as well, above us seemed mostly clear. Very odd.
The boys went back to their rooms and S and I started on a new movie. Not too long later (and a lot of interruptions from boys) the wind picked up again. It was around 9:30 pm and this time it was strong enough to grab my attention and go to the kitchen window. I looked over to the northwest to check on Giant Cloud and was actually stunned at how fast it was moving. I said to S that it looked like that UFO scene in the movie Independence Day. The cloud literally looked like a huge purpley grey UFO spinning in the sky and moving southeast. I had hoped it would just pass over us, but nope, it settled right above us, still appearing to move in a circle.
Ok, now I was thinking 'tornado'. We don't get those here because our wind currents just don't support tornadoes. We have had only one that I remember in 1987 that actually touched down. That one destroyed a trailer park, as I recall. I remember being at my parent's house near the tornado path that day. The wind was immense, but reasonably short lived. Yesterday's wind was freaking gigantic and moving strangely. It would gust heavily into the house, then suck all the air out of the house with equal velocity. Normally, wind goes in one general direction, not back and forth like that. And it appeared to be coming from the northwest, then change to come from the northeast. Freaky.
The northwest wind was the worst though. It seemed to bend the trees in half and push my neighbor's brown fence down into our yard. Things got very scary when a portable garage from two houses down was picked up by the wind and deposited into my neighbor's yard. Luckily, it only loosened one of the power lines on the neighbor's house, it didn't rip anything down or destroy anything. I seriously thought the wind was going to pick it up again and throw it at my roof, though. I had my eye on that thing a good portion of the time. When I wasn't watching the lightning, that is.
The lightning was amazing. I have never before seen the clouds turn green, red, purple and blue from lightning. My entire field of vision was the clouds being illuminated by both lightning that hit the ground and that went from cloud to cloud. At some point during this our power went out for what looked like my whole neighborhood. S and the boys (they'd come out of their rooms to join us in the storm watch) could see a streetlight not too far away and I could see some about two blocks away, but everything was otherwise dark. This made it easier to watch the lightning...and my neighbor's fire pit.
They hadn't put it out yet and were still feeding it at the beginning of the wind storm. At one point the wind came hurling over their garage and pouring down into their pit, making a six foot Dust Devil out of embers. Now that was scary. The neighbors moved out of the way but didn't douse the fire yet. Instead they packed it down and stirred it a bit. So in between watching the portable garage bucking and heaving, and lightning flashing, and the clouds for funnels, I was getting ready to call the fire department if their apple tree or garage lit up. It didn't. But they didn't put out their fire until just before the hail came.
After the wind died down (one article clocked it at 110 km/hr, another at 76 km/hr) everything was dark and quiet. The lightning wasn't too close, but it was extraordinarily bright. I get weird headaches in the center of my forehead in between the eyes when the lightning gets too close, but there was no headache last night so I didn't fear the lightning coming through the windows like I normally would. Yes, silly I know, but during an especially close storm I actually believe the lightning will bend, come through my window, and strike me dead. My sisters love thunderstorms, I really don't. Adrenalin and fear might have kept the headache away but the lightning didn't feel close. Just bright and scary.
So during the patch of dark, quiet and freakish calm, we could hear a roar coming from the northwest. It had begun to rain a bit and the storm ebbed to a normal thundershower, but the roar was new. In about a minute or two the roar turned out to be hail, wind and rain making its way toward us. The hail was not too big, about the size of marbles, but big enough to sound huge as it pummeled the house, eaves trough, and roof. Thankfully, it didn't get bigger or last very long so there was no damage to the cars or house.
During all of this there was another really odd sound. It sounded like a ship groaning in the water. You know that odd metal bendy noise you hear in movies when the ship is rocking and groaning? Yeah, that sound. But we don't have any ships here, we're landlocked. I have no idea what it was but figure it was somehow related to the power outages. A good portion of the city was without power for most of the night.
The storm died down by midnight and everyone went to bed. When I woke up at 2:30 am we still had no power. I did have massive neck pain though, like I was trying to stop the wind from sheer force of will. The power came back pretty much for good around 5:30 am. There was no newspaper in my mailbox when I got up for good at around 9:30 am so I looked online to see if it was a tornado or not. At the time it was just a 'gust front', but later it was reported that there were unconfirmed tornadoes outside the city. I also found out the newspaper plant lost all of its power as well so it didn't get printed. Hopefully I'll get today's paper tomorrow (my delivery guy isn't reliable enough to say for sure) until then I'll look at the sucky online version. I'm one of those people that likes the feel of newsprint or pages when reading, not electronic stuff.
I checked my house this morning and there was no damage, yay :) Our cars have all their windows intact and the only foreign matter in my yard was my neighbor's garage shingles. Every large storm gives me the gift of a few of their shingles, this time it was about triple the usual offering.
Two doors down the owner of the portable garage got his tool kit and disassembled and removed it with the help of neighbor's boyfriend. During this their dog ran up to the brown fence that separates our yards and I watched the fence bend dramatically. It's a seven-ish foot fence made of wood that was in need of shoring up before the storm, and if I still ran my dayhome I'd ask the neighbor to fix it. But for now I think I'll wait until it actually falls over before saying something to them. I don't know if the neighbor knows the fence is her property or not (my landlord told me before that it isn't his fence and he objected to the owner at the time putting up a wooden fence - too much upkeep). All the trees are ok, they were pruned dramatically in late Winter so no loose branches to clean up. Well, not many anyway.
Big weather is just scary to me.
Update: we drove a little in the area and there are several tree branches down, just not on my block :)