Storm Cells, Fire, and Power Outages: Our Own Mini Apocalypse

damage, hydro towers, lightening, rain, Random, thunderstorm, tornado, weekend, wind

No one saw the storm coming, and if they did, it was too late to prepare for it. We had just finished dinner when the power zipped off, no warning at all. Then we heard the thunder. Being that Zoe was in bed, Greg and I hurried out to the shop to watch the storm there with a beer and the door open. Well, we made it there, but with the frequency of lightening bolts striking the ground around us, we decided that maybe we should watch the storm from the house. After all, we’d never seen lightening like this.
One road north of us: gravity wagon overturned.
We could see the wall of rain coming at us from across the fields, but you could also see this wall blowing, and we knew it was going to be bad. As I was running from the shop to the house (only a 50 foot dash), I saw the fire in the wheat field beside us (where we knew a lightening bolt had touched down). The fire was already 50-100 feet wide and increasing in size. The flames were huge. I ran inside, grabbed the video camera, and by the time I made it back outside (10 seconds later), the wall of rain had begun to douse the flames. I did get some of it on film.
Four houses down.
And as Greg and I were retreating to the house, the wall of rain became something just short of a hurricane. The wind and rain was like nothing we have ever seen. Lightening bolts were right on top of us (distance indicated by the thunder that came at the exact moment as the lightening) and so often that we grabbed Zoe from bed and ran to the basement. We were sure a tornado had dropped on top of us. This terrifying rain/wind/hail storm lasted five or ten minutes and then suddenly stopped. We did not dare step outside yet (still lightning bolts every two seconds), but we were able to assess the damage from the windows.
One of two hydro towers down 2 streets north of us.
We were lucky in terms of what we, and two blocks east of us experienced (and north; it was a long skinny storm traveling on a south eastern course). We just had a few shingles, and vent caps blown off the roof, a LOT of branches blown off our oak and plum trees, and a large branch snapped off our maple. Took 2 hours just to clean up the branches. Flower pots were broken, furniture was overturned, etc. But we still got off easy compared to the street north of us.
Overturned gravity wagons (if you’re not from the country, these are the giant red things you see being pulled behind tractors hauling corn or beans or whatever), augers bent all to shit, one of those white tarp semicircle barn/shed/covers that I think people usually used for straw or hay completely destroyed (steel in the field across), destroyed sheds in fields, two dozen GIANT straw bails – the big rolls, if you’re trying to imagine – had rolled out of the field, jumped across one ditch and landed in the one across the road. One shop door was bent upwards onto the roof, a lot of downed trees, and some even collapsed on cars. Downed chimneys and aerials. Across the street from us, the barn roof was blown half off. Our oak tree was struck by lightening for the second time since we’ve lived here. 
The hydro pole snapped off almost just across the street from us.
Anyways, when the storm was over, we had gotten an inch and a half of rain in five minutes. The ditches were full, and we have no generator. We were sure that the power would be out for a while, given the damage, and being afraid of a flooded basement, we hauled east to the nearest Walmart (20 minutes away – I think it only took us 10 that night) and they had not had a storm (so, generators were aplenty), and made it there as the manager was locking the door. Greg begged his way in. Too much money later, we drove home with a good generator, but by the time we got home it was dark. Trying to put one of those together in the dark is a little difficult. Thank goodness for truck headlights.
One road north of us. Door bent onto the roof.
While on the road, we listened to the radio and found out that it was literally just OUR block and the next two over (and then north–traveling south) that had been in the center of this sever storm cell. Tornado warnings had been issued for the towns around us, but they were lifted by sunset. Apparently, two hydro towers two streets north of us, the ones directly above the road I used to take to work, had collapsed (I saw on the news later that they had bent in half, crumpled like they were made of tin foil) and six others were damaged. 
We drove around the country side yesterday morning (still hydroless but with a fridge and freezer running) and found that our street was the only one with hydro poles snapped like twigs. Within 3 km from our house (2 miles), five hydro poles had gone down. The hydro trucks were working on the poles very early in the morning, and given the mess they had to contend with, they did an amazing job. It sucks not having hydro, but how could you be mad when you saw how much they had to fix???? 
Our poor corn. Not going to have much this year.
So, last night, at eleven o’clock and twelve hours sooner than projected, they had our power back on. It was so nice to know that I could wake up in the morning, make a coffee, sit Zoe in front of Barney for a while, and catch up on everything I’d missed (internet addict much?). 
Across the street.

So that was our weekend. I know it’s nothing compared to what some of you have experienced, but honestly, we don’t live in a tornado prone, hurricane prone, earthquake prone area. This was the scariest thing we’d ever seen. How was your weekend?

EDIT: Now, they’re saying that they believe a tornado could be the culprit, having touched down twice in the areas I mentioned and causing all the damage.

There’s a link here to a video that a Sarnia resident took, one that looks like a tornado that could be over our area:

There are a lot of photos on the weather channel website, but I think this one sums it up pretty well.

EDIT #2: F2 tornado confirmed – click here for my blog post, pictures, video, and news report.

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