Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It Could Have Least Sounded Like a Train - Indy Tornado Update

I was about a mile from the crash pad, finishing my day early when my cell phone started squawking at me.  I looked down and saw this. I'd been in meetings or away from the internet most of the day and hadn't checked the weather. But we've been having thunderstorms across the Midwest both at the Crash Pad and at home for the last week and none were serious, just noisy.

Living in the Midwest you sort of get used to the weather  When I first moved to the Midwest from the West Coast where I'd been based as a pilot, I'd never seen a tornado, only hearing that when they are bearing down on you, they sound like a freight train. One night home alone, I saw the portent of danger in a tornado warning on TV. Alone, and not sure of what county was which, having been in the area only days, I felt fear. I felt more than that when I heard, through the sound of the howling wind and thunder, the sound of a train. I took cover in the bathtub  with a twin mattress pulled off the guest bed, the family dog preferring to be sucked up like a giant fur ball in a vacuum cleaner than leave his warm spot by the fire, refusing to budge.  It passed, and unharmed I called my neighbor who couldn't stop laughing. For what I'd heard was not a tornado, as there wasn't one, just a good storm. It was the train that ran through the 20 acres behind my new home every night a little after 10.
But The "Extreme Alert" is something I've never seen before and I've been a Hoosier almost 10 years.  Ahead of me it was just grey, in the rearview mirror, ugly. Really ugly.  Crash Pad was closer to ugly than clear, but Abby was there all alone.  

I broke a couple local speed laws and got inside my garage as the rain hit and she and I shared a biscuit (mine was shaped like a cold beer) in the closet in the center of my little home.  I left the garage door open, likely to get a lot of wet inside but that way my neighbor the cop would know I was home if there was damage and would check on me.

We didn't hear much really but normal storm sounds, but came out when sounds of rain and sirens faded away.  I called Roberta X to make sure she was OK, and she was, though Random Numbers the Cat didn't like the basement much.

A big tree on the corner is split in half but other than that, no damage at my place, but there were several homes destroyed in the area.

Apparently, THIS is what was following me home and touched down about a quarter mile from the Crash Pad.
 Picture from the local news, and I totally recognized the building.

I got a call that there were no deaths, or serious injury, but a lot of property damage and many homes uninhabitable.   This one was in my little burb, the RV picked up from a neighbor's and dropped through a roof.
So tonight, while you're safe inside your home with your loved ones, say a prayer for those folks here in the Indy area that had homes lost or damaged. And also, remember beer isn't the best idea for a small closet with a wiggly dog that is afraid of thunder as I ended up wearing it. 

She is all happy, and I am all hoppy.

But we're safe.

I barked and scared it away.  I should get another biscuit.


  1. Whoa, that was too close for fun but not close enough to be on TV. We seldom get that tucked up against the mountains but it can happen, usually it is out on the flat land to the south. Glad you got home in time!

  2. So glad that you and the Abbster are ok.

  3. Good to hear you came through safe. Too bad about the beer.

    I'll have to give MSgt J a call and see how they are.

  4. Dang. Just came through Indy yesterday. Another day and who knows...?

    Glad you're OK

  5. Zounds! Glad y'all are OK, and that does look a familiar scene...

  6. I've heard that they sound like a train but had one go by the house less than a quarter mile away and didn't hear anything but the rain and steady wind. I don't know about weather alerts these days. Seems like we get "tornado warnings" now any time there's a thunderstorm that has the potential to spawn a tornado. That's pretty often in Florida during the summer. It used to be that a tornado warning was what they put out to tell you that somebody actually saw a tornado. That warning that you got looks like it was really telling you something! Glad nobody was hurt and that it didn't hit your place.

  7. I listened to several tornadoes passing during the night hurricane Ike came ashore.

    They do sound like huge engines, a low, deep tone that's unmistakable if you should ever hear the sound.

  8. ...and I have to add it's good you're safe. The interwiz depends on people like you to keep it more exiting than photo ops with the Kardashians.

  9. Good to hear all are safe!

    When I was growing up in Illinois, we'd get a couple every year. The worst one took out a good size chunk of the Plainfield area, but where my parent's house was seemed always to get missed.

  10. Glad you're OK. Stay safe.

  11. Those make the hair on end stand at attention. Had one go overhead, few weeks back, rattled the house but no damage. Knocked out power for a bit and sucked a utility pole out of the ground across the way. Winds in excess of 100 mph but no major property damage.
    When I see the mangled towns, aftermath, I utter a few words of thanks and comfort to those involved.
    Glad you are okay and only had a few shakes.

  12. Just saw the news on the storm, and was hoping you were ok! Glad you did not have damage.

    Good to hear no one was killed. I hope and pray that folks are able to salvage their property and rebuild.

    Stormy here too, though DFW has had flash flooding, not tornadic activity. All is ok at Casa Monkeywrangler so far, and if it floods here, best be looking for a bearded Jewish guy in a big wooden boat full of animals!

  13. I heard and was wondering how all of you were back there. Glad to hear everyone is ok! LOL at Abby and her extra biscuit. The damaged house is wow!

  14. WEAs are fairly new, introduced by FEMA within the last couple of years.


    Your readers who wear tinfoil headgear are probably apoplectic at this point. Sorry.

    WEAs are general broadcasts to all phones within a given vicinity. FEMA is not tracking you 24/7 for the government, kids -- that's Google's job. :)

  15. Sunnybrook Farm - I've been in the closet a few times since moving here, but this was the first time one actually touched down in my town, they usually go north and south of here.

    Murphy's Law - I thought for a moment of heading to the clear instead of back TOWARDS it but I wasn't going to leave her in the house if I had time, and I had a few minutes and a lead foot.

    MSgtB - hope MSgtJ is OK. If they have housing issues, I have a spare room and bath.

    Crustyrusty - you timed that OK and glad that worked out

    ZerCool - could have thrown a rock . .

    Lantry - I've not been close to one though heard a recording of the one that went through Xenia, Ohio and boy DID it sound light a freight train.

    Jess - thanks. Why check out the kardashians when there's bacon photos and dog hair. But thanks for stopping, I did this for family, and now that they are mostly gone, I'm keeping it up for the friends I've made. It's always a nice "smile and a wave" as we used to say, when I get home from a long day.

    drjim - we've had one up at the Range where we went to the basement with the computer to check on its progress, but it didn't turn into much of anything A little further to the southwest of us, they get some nasty storms.

    Bob - Thanks, by all accounts this wasn't a big tornado compared to the ones you see in other states. We don't often get the kind that levels houses, but it will really tear up some property, and I'd not want to be caught out in the open when one came through.

    johnbord - I volunteered to bring in supplies and help after the Joplin one. The devastation has really stayed with me.

    Borepatch - thanks.

    Dave - thanks and my best to you and Vic Tell her I'm scouting out those old books she recommended (and eating ice cream, calories don't count on tornado days).

    naturegirl - everyone is fine, I've called local friends and no one had damage, but a couple of the neighborhoods around here got a bit beat up.

  16. Brigid,

    I am glad that you are all safe.
    They can be no joke. Those are superb pictures.

  17. Yikes. Harrowing account, but all's well that ends well.

  18. Hi Brigid,

    I'm glad you are both OK. Storms can sure be scary and I would never discount the danger either.

    Usually while at sea we can move away from storms if/when they don't pop up around us as happened in October, 2011, when we had our own private hurricane at sea.

    All the best from Coconut Grove where we're at the Mayfair Hotel for a week, old hang out of The Rat Pack, while My Honey is attending meetings. I'm glad to be able to be on line for a few days. We'll be back at sea on Sunday where we live in a communications black hole - no Fox News and little bandwidth.


  19. Glad that you're all ok.
    I think I've told you before about my tornado experience back in April '82. Still hoping I don't have another.
    Stay safe.

  20. Jane - thank you! Abby is getting a little better about the camera. The second picture is on our walking trail here in this almost rural little town.

    Mathew - I was concerned but not panicked, this was not a earth smiting storm, but an attention getter.

    Lois - As a pilot I so understand the storms over bodies of water and they are NOT to be dismissed lightly. Glad you are well, and I look forward to catching up on the adventures.

    Hat Trick - that was a bad one, indeed.

    All - I'm headed to bed, the storms all moved well East, Dad talked to and Partner aware I've not had a house fall on me or anything (and your little dog too!) Thanks for the kind thoughts. I've talked to most of the Indy blog gang and all is well.

  21. Glad to hear you, Abby, and the Indy bloggers are okay.

    Next time, try lambic. Then you won't be all hoppy. Still be soaked, though. :-P


  22. Glad y'all are okay, and thoughts and prayers for those that lost homes.

  23. Glad you and Abby missed the tornado. Sorry about your spilled beer. We are all too familiar with thunderstorm chicken dog syndrome.

  24. So glad that you and Abby are safe and sound. I live about 20 minutes from Washington IL that experienced an EF4 tornado just over 6 months ago. Its amazing what kind of damage a tornado can do. I used to hate living in NC on the coast because I hate storms let alone a hurricane but at least with that you get some decent warning. Again, glad you are safe! Hugs to you and Abby.

  25. Thought about you two last night when I saw the news. Glad to hear all is well at the pad.

  26. I don't understand why homes in the midwest don't have basements? Can't imagine living there without a shelter stocked with supplies and a comfy bolt hole for such emergencies.

  27. Brigid,

    As someone who grew up in the Mojave Desert and now lives in the Midwest I can sympathize with the anxiety. I much prefer earthquakes to tornadoes.

    Glad to hear everyone is OK hope Abby gets that second biscuit.


  28. I'm looking for biscuits shaped like cold beers today! Maybe my local Publix can order them.
    Glad you are OK. Great article.

  29. On a Wing - I will remember that!

    Mrs. S - I imagine Chloe acts much the same as Abby. But they are both so cute!

    Sarah - Thanks - sitting here eating my lunch outside with the nice weather hard to believe it was so nasty yesterday.

    Robin - thank you for the well wishes.

    immagikman - actually a high percentage of homes in Indiana have basements. Some areas don't however as the water level is so high it's not only hard to build one, but it's hard to keep one dry during the big rains, even with a sump pump. In other areas of the Midwest (especially in Tornado Alley), the ground is composed of clay that actually absorbs a lot of moisture, and the water table there is very high. Add to that, the soil has a tendency to dry out in heat, and that causes this contraction and expansion that puts a lot of pressure on concrete- reinforced walls in basements and causes them to crack with can underline the support structure of the entire home and be prohibitively expensive to repair.

    The most common reason is modern constructions. All of the subdivisions with family friendly pricing any more are on slabs as it's just so much cheaper to build. You're not going to get a 4 bedroom McMansion with a basement for the price most young families can afford to finance not to add the extra insurance costs due to basements and flood plains of which there are many around here.

    But around here, there are a lot of basements and my full time home has one as do all the neighbors.

    The crash pad is the more modern construction Fancy a*@ granite countertops and big bathtubs and actual wall and roof and insulation worthy of a Barbie Dream House all on an uneven slab built near marshland (you can actually sit on the side of the tub and see how the counter has tilted over time).

  30. Glad you all came through it OK. Hate to lose you to the Land of Oz.

  31. " Seems like we get "tornado warnings" now any time there's a thunderstorm that has the potential to spawn a tornado. That's pretty often in Florida during the summer. It used to be that a tornado warning was what they put out to tell you that somebody actually saw a tornado."

    I think they quit relying so much on that because too many other phenomena (some genuinely destructive and dangerous in their own right) can look like a tornado to the ordinary citizen. And of course tornadoes can occur at night or be masked by a heavy "rain wrap."

    With NEXRAD coverage so extensive these days even at a few thousand-feet AGL, the gold standard for a tornado warning is Doppler radar: a tornado signature or a severe thunderstorm that is exhibiting certain characteristics. This is corroborated if possible (but, I think, not necessarily) by trained spotters, who I think typically would be part of the "Skywarn" program. See for instance

    These days there is an even higher category of warning called "tornado emergency" that is shaping up as a rarely used declaration when a tornado is especially large, violent, heading for a city or other unusually vulnerable area, etc.

    The geographical granularity of this information is often controversial but apparently this and the subsequent rate of perceived false alarms is often attributable to the people who use the National Weather Service warnings, not the NWS itself.

    It's a tough call -- you don't want to be the boy who cried, "Wolf," but don't want to fail to warn just in case it does something unpredictable or if more of them form. Though not much at risk from tornadoes in my present life, I spent enough time in the Midwest and South to have a healthy respect for them, and would rather drink beer in the bathtub with a mattress over my head for nothing, than get hit by a tornado I didn't know was coming...

  32. Does this mean you're not in Kansas, anymore?


  33. Thanks for the post. Glad to hear you guys are safe.

  34. So glad you are safe. I know that fear and worry very well. Also, sippy cups are great in hidey holes.

  35. I lived for 60 years in New Albany Indiana and had the only basement in the neighborhood. During tornado warnings my neighbors could be seen running to my house as I grabbed their kids and hauled them inside. My daughter lives in Indianapolis, so the latest warning that you're talking about had my attention.

    Oddly enough, a tornado never touched my house until I put it up for sale and had a buyer. On the day we were to sign the contracts, a tornado dumped my 40 year old Maple tree into the middle of my living room. BAD timing is Murphy's Law.


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