Friday 7 December 2012

Do you feel lucky, punk?

Here's the question: if two killer tornadoes strike within 18 months, one of them in the next suburb to the north and the other in the next suburb to the south, should you feel lucky? Or move?

In May last year everyone was very surprised, as well as shocked, when a classic tornado hit Albany, killing a worker on a roof. We hadn't thought we got tornadoes here - but it turned out we do, and yesterday we had another, that ripped through Hobsonville just 4 kilometres from where I sat unknowingly on the sofa, looking at the rain overflowing the guttering and thinking mildly, "No more painting for me just yet, then." While, this time, three men died at the site of a new school that's being built, when a concrete slab wall blew over and crushed their truck. Dreadful.
In this crappy iPhone 3 photo, you can just see the collapsed slabs shining in the sun; and perhaps some missing orange tiles on the houses beyond. Hundreds of homes lost their roofs and windows: trampolines flew through the air, a car was shunted across someone's garden, boats blew away, and there are snapped and uprooted trees everywhere, many of them huge old pines. Walking through there this morning, the air smelt good from all that broken pine, but it was all such a mess. There were reporters, police and military people everywhere (the Air Force base at Whenuapai was hit too) and many groups of men in hi-viz vests and helmets standing around pointing. I whisked past the ones putting up the Road Closed sign, businesslike, focused and not breaking stride, and they didn't say a word. It's a skill.

There was a small (though temporary) silver lining to it all: a bit of the nasty orange sound barrier along the motorway blew down and gave us back the harbour view. And today's vaguely travel-related connection? According to QI, the country with the highest annual tally of tornadoes is... no (klaxon), not the US, but Britain. There, that's news to you, isn't it?


the queen said...

I just saw the blown out slabs on the Weather Channel. Scary. And why don't people in the UK freak out about tornadoes like we do in the US?

TravelSkite said...

Well, I could say that it's the stiff upper lip thing, old girl - but really, it's because, as usual, you do things much bigger over there.


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