Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What in the Hurricane is a Derecho?

Last Friday, June 29th, there was a 30% chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms. What ended up happening in Fort Wayne, however, were wind gusts equal to a Category 1 Hurricane. We were at the very beginning of what is being called the June 2012 Midwest and Mid-Atlantic Derecho, which weather folks are saying is one of the most destructive bands of fast-moving thunderstorms in the history of North America. What? Ever?
You can read more about derechos here.

In Fort Wayne we were at the very beginning of the bad stuff, with the peak winds of the entire storm being recorded here at 91 mph. Unbelieveable. Trees toppled everywhere due to the straight-line winds. Very few of the dead ash trees came down in my parents neighborhood, however. My guess is that being leafless, there was really nothing to "catch" the wind like the tops of fully leafed out trees. The Lakeside Neighborhood looked like the hardest hit, and I believe residents are still without power. West Central was hit pretty hard, too. A large, car crushing sized branch fell from the tree right where I almost always park on Union Street. Good thing I wasn't home!

So, power went out. Trees came down. Clean-up is continuing. My power came on Monday around 11:00 a.m., but so many others are still without power, including my sister and aunt and uncle. Now they are saying power may not be fully restored until July 7th!

I was on a run for work when the sky turned really, really bad, really, really fast.

After turning on St. Joe Center, and seeing the Riviera Plaza sign blow out, tree limbs tumbling from trees, and an enormous, heavy plastic construction tarp blow around the car of the lady driving in front of me, I got to feel the full force of the winds. Myself and three others jumped out of our cars to pull and rip and cut the tarp off the car, and then stuff and fold and shove it back on the other side of the concrete barriers. I was a mess, soaked completely, and muddy from all the dirt blowing around.

After work I headed to my mom and dad's to see what had happened there. This was a tree I passed in Kirkwood on the way to their house.

This is what was waiting at my parents' house. Could have been MUCH worse. This poor tree lost a 1/4 of it's canopy several years ago during the Ice Storm. It lost another two quarters on Friday.

Always ready for a photo op.

Mangled branches.

A couple of big branches landed in the Shade Garden. Nothing was damaged, though. I am also extremely happy that this big tree was not touched at all. My greatest fear is that this tree will come down and the Shade Garden will be, well, no longer shady.

There were no birds around.

A big old branch we pulled down before if broke more of the tree.
Pretty sure the tree will be coming down. After these two big breaks so close together, I'm sure it is beyond stressed.
Driving home into what would become Night One of the West Central Blackout. Or, as Guy called it, the Zombie Apocalypse. Friday night was spent at the Deck, and Saturday night was Buskerfest, more Deck, and Henry's. I mean, I couldn't just stay at home sitting in the dark! The walk home on these nights, however, was terrifying. The neighborhood was so dark. I understand now was pitch black means. The walk up the steps to the Penthouse was even more terrifying, but I survived.

I said Lakeside was hit hardest, but West Central had it's fair share of destruction. A tree toppled at Wayne and VanBuren Streets.

A truck crushed by a branch around the corner on Rockhill Street.

Branches hanging in power lines in the alley behind the Penthouse.

And more car damage on Jackson Street.

By Sunday afternoon the streets were oddly empty of cars. I think everyone had fled for friends and relatives with power.
Still without power Sunday night, I settled down for a night in...an 1880's night in. Instead, however, I ended up across the street at the Hartman Porch where I polished off a bottle of wine, and we all learned some excellent news...

The Rail had power. When John, Ben, and I arrived, the sign was such a bright, glowing, beacon of light that the lettering was obscured. It was the first glimmer of hope we had had yet...electricity! It still exists!!!

Civilization at last...

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