Tag Archives: skywarn

The Sky Is Falling !

Well, at least parts of it . . .
The sky often has a lot of water in it.
When it has way too much water, it rains.
When the air is cold enough, that rain can become snow. Here in Huntsville, we have had LOTs of rain this week, enough to elevate concern for flooding on several rivers, large creeks and even the Tennessee River was a concern in places. But here in North Alabama, flooding is common enough to not panic.
BUT then, the forecast includes sub-freezing temperatures and that scary word “snow“.
OMG, WTF, etc… You would think the sky was gonna fall .!.

Well, the sky fell today – and there was a wide-spread panic. Continue reading


Huntsville Hamfest 2012

Come to the Huntsville Hamfest .!.!.!. (Aug 18 & 19, 2012)


Come talk to me about “stuff” …..

Thanks  /;^)

Madison County Tornado – 3 weeks on

So hard to believe that it has been three weeks already. Nearly a month.
Sometimes it seems so long ago, other times – like it just happened..
Took a drive last Saturday thru our ‘Tornado Zone’, to show Lenore and Shelby how bad it really was – and to get a few more photos. There was a hope that they might better understand how and why this has affected me so deeply. We’ll see.

photo locations in tornado path

Photo locations inside and around tornado paths

This map from the NWS storm survey, showing purple dots where I have taken photos – some were linked in previous blog posts. The smaller inset locates this map in a larger view of the tornado scar across Limestone and Madison Counties.

This batch of photos starts in the south-west corner of the map, near the Limestone County Prison where many of the TVA transmission towers were destroyed. You can see that this re-construction is well under way. The fields are so broad and open – the tornado was about a half mile wide here. There is a large field just north of there that is receiving a steady stream of dump trucks bringing tree debris and the remains of houses, several acres have already piled up.
The photo path winds north and east – back and forth across the chaos; Love Branch Rd, Orville Smith Rd, Smith-Vasser Rd, Lockhart Rd, Yarbrough Rd, Wall-Triana Hwy, Stovall Rd, Ford Chapel Rd. . . Thunderbird Rd brings us into the south side of Anderson Hills; Maverick Dr, and Taurus Dr. From the crest of the hill you can barely see the remains of the top of the Piggly-Wiggly grocery store on Hwy 53, under the power lines. I was working at the NAMRC field clinic,  setup in the cafeteria at Sparkman School, about a half mile south of there. (I’ve also updated http://w4hmc.wordpress.com this week) . . .

blown away

Swept completely off the foundation . . .

This one was apparently swept clean off the foundation – you can see the bricks on the left, the entire first floor reduced to nothing more than toothpicks, rubble and dust. I see not only the houses that have been smashed, but the people that can’t live there anymore, and don’t have anywhere to put what little they might have left.
I can’t imagine the horror of being inside some of these homes I’ve seen,
hiding from this tornado – while the roof & the walls are being sucked away…..

Some of these folks had not much to start with, and what little they had may now be completely gone. And they are thankful to be alive, and wanting to help their neighbors first. They are all so grateful for our help.   Please do !!
They know first-hand the value of life.

I’m sure I’ll get beyond all this someday, but I will never be the same.
I’ve heard this referred to as survivor’s guilt
I was not threatened like this,    I had no fear,    I lost nothing,
but I feel their pain and suffering …………… it is very real.
It’s actually related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I have nothing but respect and praise for all the emergency personnel;
volunteer firefighters, deputies and first-responders…
that do the hardest part in these disasters – search and rescue, and the inevitable recovery of the friends and neighbors that lost their lives. I’m sure that in that line of work, they have training, and experience that helps them to prepare themselves for these hard parts, and hopefully the joy in helping save others helps balance out that pain. It can’t be easy . . .
God Bless Them All. . .

Thanks for reading. The writing helps…  /;^)

Tanner Tornado, 1 week later.

Last Thursday the clinic operation had concluded, and MSFC was still not open. What to do… After a week of such intense activity, the clinic staff had become my new family – and that was my new job. NASA seemed so far away. I had learned the night before that co-workers were helping a team member who had taken nearly a direct-hit from the storm in Tanner, Alabama – about 15 miles west of me.

I went to help, taking everything that was still in the Subaru, and adding some more as I wasn’t sure what to expect. Understanding that this was a full week after the storm, I was still shocked at what I saw. I still have a hard time with some of these pictures, recognizing that there were at least three fatalities in this neighborhood. The pictures speak for themselves, I don’t want to get into a description of the horrific devastation I encountered. This is my first and hopefully only F5 tornado. It is so hard to believe this is real. I do want to post these pics tho, because most folks saw the news, and accepted that it was bad, and have already moved on. It is still bad, and will be for a long time.

not much left here

Horrific Devastation in Tanner Alabama

Here is a link to my DropBox gallery from that day:

Greg’s house was not destroyed, but one end of the roof was torn open, and every room inside has suffered water damage. Nearly every tree on his two lots has already been cut up and prepped for burning. Large burn piles release huge plumes of thick black smoke. Several of the lots have already been completely bulldozed with only a few piles of rubble left. The main thing I could help with was to connect a second generator to his daughters house next door, and re-connect the generator into the two panels at his house – to make sure it would be safe for the next week or so.

Seeing the destruction wrought by the 200+ mph winds, it is truly a miracle that anything was spared. The survivors there are surprisingly calm and obviously counting their blessings. They know it will be a long road to recovery. They know the value of their friends and neighbors – and are seriously grateful.
Help your neighbors every chance you get.

I keep telling myself, that these are only two or three neighborhoods that I’ve been directly connected to. I just have a hard time comprehending how much destruction and suffering has gone on over the path of this one storm. The NWS stats for this one tornado indicate a damage track (in Alabama) of ~132 miles with a maximum width of 1.25 miles, max winds of 200+ mph, and 26 fatalities across 6 counties. And this  was only ONE of the many, many tornadoes reported that day. For a chilling look at how ugly it was, try this composite view of the rotation tracks recorded by NOAA. http://www.norman.noaa.gov/2011/04/nssl-product-captures-april-27-tornado-outbreak-storm-rotation-tracks/

OK, I don’t plan on more pics of destruction, but I will surely have more links to stats and other information on this event as I encounter more detail.

Thanks again for your prayers and continued support. /;^)