Vicious violence struck in many closeby neighborhoods yesterday.
I watched with horror, with fascination, and yes, a frisson of excitement buried deep. I saw at least four tornadoes appear and disappear in real time. I saw the tractor trailers tossed in the air in real time. I saw roofs lift off houses. Cars flipped upside down before my eyes.
As the various funnels were tracked, I tensed again and again as they seemed headed for schools, a large shopping mall, beloved landmarks. Where friends or family live.
Part of the time I had to rely on the radio for information. Damn satellite television--no cable available here.
I had known it before. Now it was visceral. You can see what it does, but you cannot stop the wind.
Experts are trying to figure out just how many tornadoes we had. At least 6. Maybe 13. Two super cells with tornadoes on the ground at the same time. Most are a Force 1 or 2. The one that hit Forney, with a direct hit on the elementary school while children were still there, was a Force 3, I just learned.
With all the storms and wind damage, not a single death. We were so lucky. I believe less than a dozen had to be hospitalized.
We had hail, too, in varying sizes in varying locations. Most was quarter size. I heard accounts of some hens egg size, and briefly, a spate of "double softball size."
A friend on Facebook was rejoicing that while her van is now pitted all over, she didn't have the windows and sun roofs broken as some of her co-workers from the hail.
Schools around here were prepared. Whole districts went into shelter lockdowns. My oldest granddaughter groused about spending a whole class period with her fellow students in the bathroom. She had no way to know I was watching the storm trackers and a wall cloud came within a couple of miles. It never dropped down, and finally veered.
The rain was torrential when I left to pick up the kids. My privet hedges were almost flattened by the sheer weight of the water. Still, I knew by then the storms had moved east. This was the last of it. Danger was almost over.
We have so much that was untouched. More than 400 homes damaged, but we have millions living here. People are asking what they can do. Efforts are underway to rescue pets that went astray as well. The Red Cross is getting a lot of donations. They will need them.
Wow. I've lived somewhere in the metroplex for 51 years. We've never had anything like this before. We were lucky that many of the tornadoes were not so strong as some singles, such as the one that hit Fort Worth a few years back.
Fort Worth is in Tarrant County. Huh. Weather service said today that Tarrant County leads the nation in total number of tornadoes since 2000. Apparently they have been mostly small ones.
People can take credit for themselves, authorities say, that more injuries didn't occur. The warning system was good. They obeyed instructions, stayed inside, took cover in a closet or the bathtub. Maybe you have seen the grandmother who took shelter in the bathtub with her 18-month-old grandbaby. Her house is flat rubble. She and the child survived. Now they can't even find that bathtub.
Even so, it is hard to know where to begin on cleanup. I can't imagine how cities like Joplin have managed, but they have.
When the tornadoes come, and the hail hammers down, we are helpless to stop it.
Not hopeless, though. Never hopeless.