Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dorothy calling

So much for Schadenfreude. Mouthing a few platitudes about the dreadful tornados recently in the southern states of the US has come back to bite me: an F2 tornado ripped through my local shopping mall yesterday afternoon while I sat at home looking out of the window thinking, "Tch. Three o'clock rain again", and killed a man working on the roof of a building there.

Astonishing. It was the real deal: swirling (clockwise) vortex sucking up sheets of roofing iron and a couple of trampolines, throwing cars about, toppling trees and street lamps, and terrifying people who'd popped into the supermarket for a bottle of milk and some catfood. It formed at Albany, hopped across a couple of suburbs, touched down outside Glenfield College moments before the final bell rang, jumped the harbour, landed briefly on the other side, and fizzled out. All over in just a few minutes, leaving chaos in its wake.

We don't do tornados here, really. They happen, but so rarely that no-one remembers, till the next time. Cyclones are more our thing - but we haven't had a big one of them for a while, either. The closest I've come was visiting the Cook Islands last year a few weeks after Cyclone Pat tore across Aitutaki, and that was pretty impressive: foliage stripped, corrugated iron wrapped round trees, collapsed houses, missing roofs. But people were busy with rakes and wheelbarrows restoring the island back to normal - which looks pretty close to paradise to us tourists - with a resignation that I imagine is the prevailing attitude in Albany right now. And Christchurch. And Japan, and Alabama, and Queensland...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to a book titled [approx] "Weather watching in New Zealand" we have 25 tornadoes a year but I don't remember one of this magnitude before - must have gone out to sea or been in unpopulated areas.
Bookbrainz

Pam said...

Bookbrainz: Those others must be piddling little things that scarcely register - but last week's we'll be talking about for years.

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