Tiny Texas Tornado


tornado 1Well, here’s another thing you don’t have in the Netherlands. Tornadoes.

We have plenty of tornadoes in Texas, but usually further north, where the land is flatter. Once every few years we get a tornado warning, but I’ve only taken the kids into the closet twice. Once in the Rio Grande Valley, when R was still a baby and our cats were outside pets, which was fortunate, since our centrally located closet was tiny. And of course nothing happened.

This past Friday evening we knew a severe storm was coming, because these weird roasted marshmallow clouds were looming over us:

bubble clouds 3

T, who was on the road, called to tell me to turn on the weather channel, because his car radio mentioned a tornado some 100 miles to the north of us.

So we turned on the TV, and by then there was a tornado about 50 miles north of us. That’s the closest we had ever seen a tornado to Austin; I think the hills usually calm things down. However, there were also little orange circles only a few miles from us, but moving away, which indicated winds that could turn into a twister at any moment.

By now it was dark.

All residents of among others Hays County (ours) were advised to seek shelter in a closet or other central room in the house. Fortunately the master closet is surrounded by other rooms, and it’s got ab0ut the square footage of my bedroom in our childhood home, because then began the gathering of pets.

Two geckos which had to be handled with care, and B arguing with me about what kind of container to put them in and if they’d be warm enough. Two cats who aren’t stupid and recognize a travel crate roundup when they see one, and a labradoodle who was nervously in the way the whole time, and more than willing to join everyone wherever we were going.

The lights were flickering on and off now, and I wondered if I should waste time getting flashlights, but decided against it. This was beginning to feel to feel urgent.

At one time the wind screamed around the corner of the house like I’d never heard before, and I was ab0ut to let the cats do what they wanted, but we ended up getting them and running downstairs about 20 minutes after we started. We have to be better prepared next time.

Once in the closet, I was on the phone with T again, and the last thing I heard before we lost our connection was that there was now an orange circle over the subdivisi0n just north of ours.

We didn’t hear that much in the closet and I can tell you, the geckos were warm enough. After a while I got out–mostly because I couldn’t stand the heat any more–and turned on the TV again. It looked like the worst had passed, although lightning was still providing an impressive show beyond our trees.

The kids stayed downstairs for a while longer, and we kept the cats in their crates until the coast was really clear. T came home somewhere in the early hours, but I didn’t wake up. The next morning we woke up to the sound of chain saws in the distance, and this was the view from our back porch:

tornado 3

And the little park across the street, with its trees and grass–no bushes–looked like this:

tornado 4

There was no major house damage anywhere, that we know of. Some roof damage, plenty of fences down, though, and the tree damage is worrying, because I doubt the landscaping guys will put sealant on all the cuts they make when they clean up the branches around the subdivision, and with the temperatures we’re having, there’s a big chance of oak wilt, which can kill all the centuries-old trees.

Judging by the path of damage through the subdivision and the way branches from various trees around us fell in different directions, it must have been a smallish twister. Hopefully the biggest we’ll ever experience.

And today we have this experience–men in our trees, making clean cuts and sealing them, and afterward they will remove the fallen branches. Being a former librarian, I have my photos in organized files on my computer. The best file to place this one in was Backyard Views. That made me grin.

men in trees 2

4 responses to “Tiny Texas Tornado

  1. Yikes! So glad you’re all ok and no major damage.

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  2. Gotta love those big storms. At least, I do now that I live far from them! And that is a very lovely backyard view!

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  3. You told your experience with the tiny Texas tornado so graphic that I could imagine how it all came to pass.
    Frighting to say the least.

    LOL: Even for a Dutch girl like you; who has experience with storms.

    Your view after this tornado looks much like here in the Netherlands after an autumn storm.

    I have a question:
    On the news I see often that in the US after a tornado, hurricane etc.
    whole streets and neighborhoods are totally devastated.
    Not to speak of the human suffering.

    But when I look at how those houses are build; a lot of wood, hardboard and (Dutch: Gipsplaten).
    Those houses aren’t build for storms, hurricanes and tornado’s

    I always as myself why those houses aren’t build with bricks like in the Netherlands.
    Not that those will keep you save all the time but at least they offer you more protection!

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    • The answer, as with most things American is: the bottom line. Money. It’s cheaper to make houses out of sticks and chalk than out of brick, or better yet for hurricanes, concrete block or prefab concrete walls like in the Netherlands. It’s the same problem as with overhead power lines instead of underground powerlines. It’s cheaper in the short term to put them above ground, but that’s not taking into account the number of households that are without power for days at a time, often in extremely cold weather. People die of hypothermia every year when the power lines are down somewhere because of a storm or icicles on the lines. And people also get electrocuted by stepping on downed lines.

      Liked by 1 person

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