On Friday evening (July 11) for about an hour and a half, Central Minnesota, including my town, was pounded by a massive storm with incredibly strong winds. The storm had been brewing all day, but didn’t strike town until about 7 p.m., ten minutes after I’d dropped our kids and one of their friends off at the movie theater. As I drove home, I noticed that almost no other cars were on the street.

My good friend Soloist was visiting Hubby and me and together we all watched out the front window as wind and rain blew crazily along the street. We also kept an eye on television weather reports, all of which were indicating serious weather activity and tornado watches for areas south of us. Nowhere in the reports did our area appear, even though we were obviously getting badly hit.

By the time the kids had finished at the theater, the storm was over, so we adults decided to walk around town and check out the damage. Daughter had called us after the movie to tell us that trees were down everywhere. Indeed, there were. While on our walk, we ran into friends who said that the western area of town suffered even more damage. And it had. We decided to take a drive and realized quickly that the west side of town had no electricity. That made it hard to see, but we did make out some downed trees in the dark. I also noticed that in contrast to the pre-storm empty streets, there were cars and people everywhere investigating what had happened.

While we were out and about, I wondered whether anyone had ever bothered to map specifically how a storm had hit a town before by checking which trees and how many had fallen within what neighborhoods. This sort of data would be interesting for tracking how a storm behaves. (Soloist thought I was crackers.)

Yesterday, Hubby and I went out and took pictures of some of the storm damage. There were stray branches and leaves everywhere, plus uprooted and snapped trees. There didn’t appear to be too much property damage – mostly downed power lines on the west side of town and a few roofs that were crunched by trees. No loss of life that I know of.

Local media reported that we had wind speeds of 62 miles per hour, but that can’t be the whole story because some of the damage indicated that our wind speeds were higher than that. Hubby and I examined the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Damage Scale of NOAA and discovered that the damage our town received had to have been caused by winds between 90 and 100 miles per hour. If you go to the link, scroll down the damage chart to “Tree-hardwood” and “Tree-softwood” and click on the numbers for them. You’ll see that for a hardwood tree to be uprooted takes wind speeds of 76-118 mph. For softwoods to be snapped, it takes winds of 88-128 mph. The expected speed for a hardwood to be uprooted is 91 mph. The expected speed for a softwood to snap is 104 mph.

To reward you for making it through my science-related blathering, here are some of the photos we took:

Downed Tree from July 11, 2008, Storm, Central Minnesota

Downed Tree from July 11, 2008, Storm, Central Minnesota

Uprooted Tree from July 11, 2008, Storm, Central Minnesota

Uprooted Tree from July 11, 2008, Storm, Central Minnesota

Downed Tree w/Roof Damage, July 11, 2008, Storm, Central MN

Downed Tree w/Roof Damage, July 11, 2008, Storm, Central MN

Another Downed Tree, July 11, 2008, Storm, Central Minnesota

Another Downed Tree, July 11, 2008, Storm, Central Minnesota

Nothing ever happens here. Really.

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