Tuesday, May 27, 2008
On Sunday, an EF5 tornado, the strongest designation, completely leveled half of Parkersburg Iowa. Shredded the place. It's amazing only 7 people were killed. A tornado siren was installed in that part of the town only ten days ago.
I missed my chance to see a tornado - at least the underside - in Rahway a few years ago. I happened to be at work in Woodbridge, about five miles away, & I was outside on my break watching tremendous thunderstorms pass to the north. When I drove home shortly after six pm, I had to pass through a police checkpoint at the edge of downtown.* Power was out. One of those storm cells dropped an FI tornado in Rahway River Park. It skipped through the park, jumped several streets & came down Central Ave., which was right next to my apartment building. It lifted off the ground & sheered the tops off tree after tree, big trees, old trees. It must have been terrifying. I walked around for an hour. There wasn't much serious property damage except where limbs had fallen on roofs & cars. But some of the old-timers were stunned, broken-hearted almost, at the carnage to the trees, which couldn't bend to the sudden increase in wind. The National Weather Service confirmed it was tornado. It was about the mildest level of possible tornado. I got a lot respect for tornadoes that day. But I was still disappointed I wasn't there, & I can't say if I would have been cowering in the bathroom or standing outside like a crazy person screaming "woo hoo!" I've had both reactions to scary weather. I did give up my fantasy of chasing storms across the prairie states.
*The checkpoints remained all night, & a driving curfew was in effect. But I had a tremendous craving for Dutch Maid donuts, & challenged myself to find an open route to the Quik Chek. I did, & at midnight the convenience store & Dunkin' Donuts next to it were crowded with people also compelled to evade the blockades. I know now the Rahway police left those few paths open deliberately, they simply didn't have personnel to seal off a large section of the town. Fallen trees pretty much did the job for them