Twister–minus Bill Paxton

(Warning–picture heavy)

I’ve lived in the midwest almost all of my life. So tornadoes aren’t anything new, though luckily, I’ve never been in a dwelling that got hit by one before. In fact, I’ve never seen one touch down up close and in person, though I’ve seen a few funnel clouds in the air. And despite living here so long, I can probably count on one hand the number of times that there was a confirmed tornado close enough that I had to actually take shelter.

Last night was one of those times. Lots of fun staying in a basement for about 2 hours with a 4 and 6 year old (and a nervous dog), lemme tell ya. And since it was dark last night during the warning, we couldn’t look out and tell if there was anything coming our way or not. (I really, really hate tornado warnings at night–much better during the daytime). Additionally, our power flickers if you look at it funny, so it was on and off last evening.

Still, we didn’t get more than a lot of rain, wind, and hail (though nothing as extreme as the softball-sized hail they were reporting on the radio while we were downstairs). We do live in the country about 10 miles from Iowa City, so our little town wasn’t hit either, as far as I could tell by driving around there on the way to drop the kids off at school. Iowa City, however, got hammered. I was driving to work this morning thinking, “huh, this isn’t so bad”–and of course, as soon as I had that thought, I started to get into the damaged areas. The university cancelled classes today so there were people milling around everywhere (plus lots of news vans and helicopters). I didn’t want to cause more traffic headaches, so I largely stuck to my route to work (that alone was bad enough). I did have to turn around at one point because the street I needed was blocked off, so I stopped for a moment and got out of my car to take some pics there (on Iowa Street near Lucas, for anyone who knows Iowa City). It looks like the tornado followed Route 1 through the city, almost…Burlington Street is a mess, and where Route 1 becomes Riverside Drive, it apparently destroyed a Dairy Queen, caused a lot of damage to a car dealership, and then took a right turn to hit Menard’s and Wal-Mart on the south side of the city. (I didn’t head out there; figured there would be too many gawkers and news vehicles already). For those of you interested, I’m putting up the pics I snapped this morning below the fold.

These first two are of the town green, which was completely covered with fallen trees and debris.

Below is what’s left of St. Patrick’s church, downtown:

Below is a building behind the Kum & Go (seriously, that’s the name of the gas station) at the corner of Burlington and Gilbert streets:

…and businesses and apartments on the other corner of the intersection:

Following Burlington south…

Debris was just everywhere on the downtown sidewalks…

Cars with huge dents/tree branches/smashed windows were everywhere:

There were a lot of traffic lights out, since numerous transformers blew, power lines were down, etc. But these (at the corner of Burlington and I think Dubuque streets) were just gone–totally torn off.

As I mentioned, Iowa Avenue near Lucas seemed to be one of the hardest-hit areas. Pics of that below:

One of the downed power lines–they were everywhere. (And I assume, not hot; they were everywhere in the neighborhood):

This one, I think, was looking south on Iowa. If you take that street far enough in that direction, you’ll hit downtown Iowa City, and it dead-ends at another central green, where the old Capitol building and the natural history museum are:

The Iowa City Press-Citizen has more photos here.

Comments

  1. #1 Miguelito
    April 14, 2006

    Has Pat Robertson come up for an excuse for why God hates Iowa?

  2. #2 CCP
    April 14, 2006

    Tara:
    wow! those are harrowing pictures…I did 6 years in Stillwater, OK and I’ve seen that kind of stuff too…Nature can be a real bitch.

    But must point out that your picture-heavy caution reads “Warming”! Is this a Freudian slip? Or are you subtly trying to stimulate an argument about the effects of global climate change on smaller-scale severe-weather frequency?

  3. #3 Tara
    April 14, 2006

    Miguelito–well, this is Iowa City, home of lots of those eeeeevil liberal academics that hate God, America, and apple pie.

    CCP–heh, um, yeah, I was trying to open up the discussion about global warming and climate change…yeah, that’s the ticket…(fixed the typo now).

  4. #4 Kristjan Wager
    April 14, 2006

    I once visited a small town in Kansas (Parsons for those interested) about half a year after it was hit badly by a tornado. There had been no electricity for some days, and IIRC over 10% of the buildings had to be torn down because the houses were moved from their foundations.

    Even when I visited, there were still many visible signs of the tornado. Rather interesting for someone who lives in a country where a minor tornado that rips off the roof of a farm house is considered a major news story, and has only happened once in recorded history.

  5. #5 wheatdogg
    April 14, 2006

    We had horizontal hail here in Louisville a few days ago, but Christian County to the west got hammered like Iowa City did. Something like 200 homes were damaged.

    Glad to hear you’re OK, though.

  6. #6 Dean Morrison
    April 16, 2006

    I had the same thought about Pat Robinson – and that perhaps he had found out where you live – but ‘Christian County?’ – whoops!

    Glad you’re okay!

    … this does raise an interesting question for me: if there are diferent genotypes of species such as Sitka Spruce, according to which side of the Rockies thay live on, and therefore their exposure to fire (e.g Sitka on the East has sparser branches and needles) – then have trees in ‘tornado alley’ come up with any adaptations?

  7. #7 JohnnieCanuck
    April 17, 2006

    Clearly the parishoners at St Patricks were doing something wrong / not right. Too much sinning or not enough tithing?