5/6/2003

Tornado Weather

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:48 am

About two this afternoon, I heard the National Weather Service issue a tornado warning for Franklin county, Georgia, my home county. Then they listed the towns in the path of the tornado and I realized that my house lay in the exact line of the storm. A quick click over to wunderground.com later (the best weather site that I’ve found), and I got to watch the live radar feed as it showed the small cell move directly over my piece of the map — I was at work, twenty-some miles away.

I quickly got in the car and raced home, to make sure I still had one. I just made it out of Athens when a small funnel came out of the clouds and crossed the road a mere couple hundred yards in front of me. All of the traffic instantl pulled over and stopped — the funnel clearly had right of way. The emergency broadcast system began reciting a tornado warning as I said aloud, “I see it, I see it.” Only after it completed did I realize they were warning about a tornado another ten miles up the road. The warning about the one I stopped for didn’t come until a couple minutes later.

It was a slow drive home, as you can imagine. Trees were down across the highway, visibility at times was zero (I pulled over then), and I managed to get behind some semi-trailers going under 20 mph even when the storm let up.

As I got close to home, the damage became more apparent. One old farmhouse not far from me had one old oak tree on its porch and another in its living room. My immediate neighbor had the roofs peel off two of his large chicken houses (each one holds tens of thousands of chickens). Another neighbor had a pole barn go down. My house — was fine. A few tree limbs here and there, standing water everywhere, the plastic covering ripped off the greenhouse, but generally OK. Even the neighbor with the single-wide trailer sitting on five-foot high columns of concret block was fine. So the worst of it skipped over us.

I don’t know how much water fell, but it had to be a whole bunch. All of the tall grass on the property is flattened. The soil is beyond saturated. And, a bucket that was sitting inside the barn, five feet from an open window, had three inches of water in it.

7 Comments »

  1. I am **so** glad that you guys are ok!! ::whew::

    Comment by Jen — 5/6/2003 @ 10:45 am

  2. Wow! What an experience! I am so happy you are safe and didn’t have serious damage! Plug in your weather radio, too! Love, Mom

    Comment by Mom — 5/6/2003 @ 11:13 am

  3. Nagging commences: For goshsakes, Eric! Hole up when there’s tornados in the area! You can’t stop them and I’m pretty sure that whatever damage you may receive will be there waiting for you whenever you manage to show up. That said, I’m certainly glad that (in order of importance to me) a) you and your sweetie weren’t hurt b) that your place is okay. Give me a (much delayed) heart attack!…

    Comment by Matt — 5/7/2003 @ 6:34 am

  4. I’m so glad that the farm is okay! I was so worried when I heard that a tornado touched down in Royston!

    Comment by Kacy — 5/7/2003 @ 8:19 am

  5. i was at athens tech when the dean came and pounded on my class door, telling us to get in the hallway, that a tornado was coming towards us. i imagine it might have been the one you saw. i don’t think i saw the tornado itself, but the rain was falling sideways outside. the people watching had these frightening looks on their faces. i am glad your farm is ok, i’m also glad you are ok. i can’t believe you drove home during the tornado…

    Comment by kim — 5/7/2003 @ 9:28 am

  6. So…I’m beginning to get the feeling that you live in an area of periodic severe weather. I remember sitting out by your workshop building playing wizwar and having Chris come tell us there were tornados in the area and thinking…there’s no where for us to go. I’m glad that you have more nerve than me.

    Comment by M — 5/7/2003 @ 9:36 am

  7. Kim — it was the same one. I pulled over right under the Athens Tech water tower (not the best place to be, but that’s where I found myself). The funnel swooped down at the intersection with Hwy 78, right by the Burger King. It was a “baby” funnel, only ten feet or so wide at the tip, and not yet coherent. It was heading toward the Open Air BarBQ when I lost sight of it — between the cloud and the raid, visibility dropped to nothing.

    Comment by eric — 5/7/2003 @ 9:44 am

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