Not quite in the Serenity sense, but more in that direction than I'd care for.

We've been seeing the remnants of Hurricane Florence all weekend, with today expected to be the most rain. It was uneventful until about 4:30, when we started getting emergency alerts on our phones that we were under a tornado warning. Then a work friend IMed me and told me that a tornado had touched down near the University of Richmond, which is about 10 miles away from me. So that got my attention.

Watching the stream of one of our local news stations, it was clear that things were ugly. Then I start noticing where they're saying that areas of "circulation" are, i.e. here's where clouds are starting to spin around each other and could become a tornado any minute. Next, they said that there was one in a western part of town, and said something to the effect of "if you're west of this street, you need to get to shelter." That street is like a mile to my west, meaning we were much closer to it than I'd care for. But there was also another circulation on the other side of the river, and one of the intersections they gave for where it would pass over was less than a mile from my house...on the other side. I had like 20 minutes or so. Then I could actually see the sky get darker.

So I jumped in the car and headed east. It was wild...at my house it was raining so hard that visibility was about 20 feet, but within maybe 5 miles, I could see patches of sky. Meanwhile, behind me was darker than it is now at 7:30pm. It was pretty eerie. I went to a friend's house who lives more downtown-ish, and his wife and kids were sheltering in a store that was right in the path and a lot closer. My wife just stayed in her office downtown, and my daughter's school sheltered in place (a teacher texted my wife that our daughter was fine, but was annoyed that they all kept having to go into the bathroom). I did think about trying to grab her from school, but that would've meant driving west (so under the first bad patch), then turning around and driving back east (so under the second one). I figured her school was a safer place than a car under those circumstances.

Thankfully neither of these spots actually turned into tornadoes, and I don't think my house even lost power. Still, it was a scary 20-30 minutes watching this stuff get worse and head my way. Once I got out of the rain I could go from anxiety to awe at the whole thing, since needless to stay storms are much more interesting to look at when you're not under them. The southern side of the river got hit pretty bad (the first video was shot about 20 miles from me).

We're under a tornado watch until 10pm, but thankfully from the radar it's looking like the worst has passed by. The local weather people are calling this "historic," and I can't recall any tornadoes this far east before. And it's definitely being attributed to Florence. But even with all this, we didn't get it half as bad as southern North Carolina / northern South Carolina. So I can't complain too much :)



posted by johnnyFive: 337 days ago