A Tornado Hits the Park Across the Street

2020-08-11 – It’s always seemed that weather forecasts have been over hyped. They forecast rain every day this week, but it only rains once. They forecast 8 inches of snow and we only get 2. And don’t get me started on “real feel.” It’s just a way to report worse temperature numbers than we actually have. And now, to add insult to injury, when bad weather is on the way, they tell us how many millions of people are in the path of the storm.

So I was skeptical when I saw warnings pop up yesterday for 100 MPH winds. Often the warnings peter out as the moment draws close, but these warnings weren’t abating. So I took a look at the online radar map. Yep, there was a storm with areas of bright red, but it wasn’t going to be a multi-hour storm (as the media was trumpeting). It was a thin line. Maybe a half hour or hour at most. I took down the sun umbrellas on our deck and put them in the garage.

I was sitting at my desk in the basement typing on the computer I am now typing on. Every half hour or so, I checked back with the radar until the red areas moved out over the lake. My skepticism of forecasts seemed confirmed. I saw dark skies from my basement window. I even heard some distant sirens, but nothing here seemed amiss.

Then I went upstairs.

My wife Kit was coming in the house saying that our dog Rebe wouldn’t go for a walk. She asked if I wanted to go. We often go on walks. It seemed a weird time to go (right before dinner), but I said yes.

Small branches were down from the tree in front of our house, but that’s normal for pretty much any storm that comes our way. Same thing in the school yard across the street. Except that our neighbor Chris was walking toward the park and pointing down the street. Branches were down blocking the street. As we walked toward the downed trees more and more neighbors were joining us.

I can’t begin to describe the devastation. Dozens of hundred-year-old trees were down and twisted and the grass was covered with a litter of smaller branches and leaves. Tops of many of the trees still standing were sheared away. Here are some pictures.

One tree uprooted, One pruned by the wind

Soccer goals upset, broken trees

Twisted, broken trees

Downed trees

Trees with some bend in them bent permanently in the direction of the wind

Tree stripped bare, path blocked

The twisted limbs

* * *

This park was one of the main attractions for buying our house. There was the school and the park. The house was solid, but ugly. We made it nice. The park was already nice. The boys, who were 3 and 2 at the time played in the shaded playlot on the west side of the park. We started a soccer league there where kids have played ever since. We walked the dogs.

It’s hard to tell now what’s left of the park. The fields will be there. Maybe there are enough trees still standing to provide shade as always. The scars will be there, but will be less and less visible as time passes.

Now, there’s the sound of chainsaws—the beginning of the cleanup. Limbs balanced at precarious and dangerous angles will be removed first. The leaves on the down branches are still fresh, but will begin to wilt and dry as the day becomes warm.

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