Friday, September 11, 2009

Nature's Wrath

A few weeks ago, an aggressive storm descended upon parts of southern Ontario. Local reports warned of severe weather all day, and as it approached, the alerts reported funnel clouds all around. As the rain fell, winds picked up considerably. I was listening to the weather channel. They repeatedly suggested that I visit the basement lest one of those funnel clouds turn into a full-blown tornado, as one had in the town of Durham earlier in the day. Sadly, it claimed an eleven year old victim.

Still, I took my time.

As the storm blew through, the trees outside my window were swaying violently. Lightning flashed almost non-stop and the thunder which followed was frighteningly loud. I saw how dramatic the lightning appeared and tried to capture a photograph of it through my bedroom window. I slowed my shutter speed way down, thinking I could snap one of those nifty shots that you often see - of several impressive forks of lightning. I leaned the camera right into the glass, and pressed the shutter as soon as I saw the first flash. The immediate crash of thunder vibrated through the glass and made me jump. Perhaps I should make my way down at least to the main floor of the house.

I never did get one of those super-impressive lightning shots. All I got was rain.

(please click to enlarge)

It turned out that a tornado touched down in Vaughan, north of Toronto, and about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from here.

Once the storm passed, an incredibly brilliant rainbow appeared in the still darkened skies. (please click to enlarge)

The rest of the evening remained calm but news reports were full of stories of destruction and devastation. My area got off easy, but still there was damage.

The following day, a walk revealed broken branches and brush throughout the park.

(please click to enlarge)

Parks' crews had already tended to some of the more serious damage, collected and placed now lifeless debris along the side of the path. (please click to enlarge)

This once-thriving tree took quite a blow. I wonder if it will survive such exposure to the upcoming winter winds and snow. (please click to enlarge)

Several branches had fallen into the lake where they'll most likely remain. (please click to enlarge)

Further along, Parks and Recreation crews were attending to a seriously damaged tree which grew almost horizontally out over the water. (please click to enlarge)

After several cuts and and snips, this charming tree is no more. (please click to enlarge)

It could have been so much worse. It was for others. The wrath of Nature shows no mercy.

This was a scheduled post. I'm up at the cottage with Frank for a few days. I'll be back soon to reply to your always-kind comments, and to visit your blogs.


Maggie May said...

Traumatic storm that caused real damage. You were brave to try to photograph it when the safety of the cellar was beckoning!
The aftermath did have its own kind of beauty I guess.
Great shots.

Jinksy said...

The power of invisible wind is always awe-inspiring. Glad you and your home missed its worst effects.

Zuzana said...

Thew wrath of nature is unmistakable. After my years living in North Carolina (a city called Durham, of all places;), I have had my share of storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. And despite it's serene beauty, nature and its fury, demands our respect at all times.
Your pictures are breath-taking as always.

I hope your stay at the cottage is tranquil and relaxing.:)

the Bag Lady said...

I'm glad the storm didn't damage YOU! Thanks for sharing the pictures of how destructive nature can be. We saw news reports of the storm that claimed that poor young boy, and I wondered how close that was to you.

Enjoy the cottage!

Daryl said...

Reminds me of the damage the wind did in Central Park a few weeks ago. Over 300 trees were downed.

Leah J. Utas said...

Excellent photo story on the storm. Love the rain pic. The circumstances are regrettable.

Russell said...

Goodness.... Glad you are okay! Here in Iowa we have a lot of tornadoes. They are extremely destructive and dangerous.

Once a person has lived through a tornado, they are never the same. I had a neighbor once who was caught in a tornado and barely escaped being killed.

From that day on, he rushed to his basement any time a tornado warning was posted. In fact, he had a bed in his basement he would sleep on during bad weather.

I have not been in one myself but have seen them go over my place.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I am sorry about the damage, but I love following you and the camera around :)

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, sounds frightening! But it yielded some great photos. Glad everything turned out all right.

Have a great time at the cabin!

Anne C. Watkins said...

Ouch. Looks like the kind of stuff Mother Nature gifts us with on a regular basis. Makes me ache for the trees, you know? Glad you are safe!

photowannabe said...

That was quite a dramatic storm you had. I love the rainbow in the darkened sky.
You are so lucky to be able to spend a few more days up at your cottage. I am so jealous.

Mental P Mama said...

Such weird weather we've had all Summer. Glad you are okay!

NJ said...

The Saturday after the storm I woke up and glanced outside and went oh my...we got another storm there is branches all over the lawn. Then I realized my husband had been tree trimming and still had to make the rounds with the garden trailer. OOPS. The storm came through here late but I talked to my daughter in Toronto and it was really bad there.

Clowncar said...

That rainbow in the darkened sky is so cool.

We had a spirited discussion while camping last weekend on whether you could photograph a rainbow. Glad you helped my cause with that image!

Dianne said...

nature can be so violent

I like the rain shot, it has an abstract, haunting quality

Swetha said...

It has ruined the place! nature at times shows the other side of itself, and thats scary!

Andrea said...

That was a brutal storm...but you found some lovely shots!! :)

ds said...

Glad you made it through the storm unscathed. Those are some terrific shots. I like the rain and that poor tree (is it the same one that the parks' crew was taking down?) & am always a sucker for a good rainbow. Happy cottaging!

Anonymous said...

Nature is always fascinating, but the power of a storm can indeed be a frightening experience. I've only had one instance of green skies and a trip to the basement, but that was enough!
My condolences to the family of the victim.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary, geez I read about the tornados...I'm so glad you were safe and that your home survived the winds and the fallen trees. I would have done the same thing...right by the window with my camera, or more likely out on the deck. I hope the elephant tree made it! :)

Shammickite said...

I was supposed to be part of an outdoor information fair that evening, but we all had to take refuge in the nearby community hall during the storm. Consequently we didn't see anything of the storm but we could hear the mighty thunder and the rain pounding on the doors and roof. The rainbow when we came out was incredible, stretching across a livid green sky! Luckily my area escaped major damage, just a few branches down, but Main St was flooded.... it was their Moonlight Madness evening when all the shops stay open late. Needless to say, it was a washout! Now they are calling it Monsoon Madness instead.

Frank Baron said...

I think we need periodic reminders that Mother Nature is still the boss. Keeps us humble. :)

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Maggie May. I was perhaps more stupid than brave but I'm still glad I witnessed the wind. There is indeed a beauty in that.. just not the damage. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks, Jinsky. I'm glad too. It is exciting to watch, but I'd draw the line and watching my roof disappear. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Protege. No doubt you saw plenty while in NC. And it explains why, in part, you're not fond of the wind you endure in your present location. I sure wouldn't want to experience it like that too often. Thanks for the kind words and for your visit. :)

• Thank you, Baggie. It was fairly close but far enough, thankfully. I'm sad for that family, but grateful that it wasn't worse all around. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Daryl, it's always sad to see nature turn on itself like that. I hate seeing damaged trees. When you know that they've existed for so long and in one short period of time, they're gone... it's rather heart-wrenching, isn't it? Thanks always for the visit. :)

• Thank you, Leah. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Russell, I can totally understand your friend's worry about impending tornados. I don't doubt that if I endured one directly like that, I wouldn't be taking pictures of anything except my basement walls. I hope all your encounters with tornados continue to be from a distance. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks so much, Gary. I'm always glad to have you along. :)

• Thanks for the kind words, Crabby. Much appreciated. We had great weather for the cottage. :)

• Thanks, Anne. I do know what you mean. I hate seeing the trees endure such damage. But Nature does her own thing, regardless of our feelings.. most of which is lovely. Thanks for your kind comments. :)

• Thank you, Sue. I'm back now and feeling quite envious of those who are at the cottage right now. Thanks always for your kind words.. very much appreciated. :)

• Thanks, MPM. You're not kidding about the weird weather. This summer has been a strange one. I think we should all demand a do-over! ;)

• NJ, that's hilarious.. and I'll bet it was a relief to realize your faux pas. Toronto did get it pretty bad. I'm just glad it wasn't any worse. Thanks always for your visit. :)

• Thanks, Clowncar. I've photographed several over this summer alone - some brighter than others, but each reasonably easy to capture. I'm glad I could help you win your discussion. :)

• Thank you, Dianne. I kind of felt that way about the rain shot myself. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Pranksy, it can indeed be scary and can cause a lot of damage, but my area got off pretty easily compared to many. I'm quite grateful for that. :)

• Thanks, Andrea. I know you experienced it right alongside me.. ish. How did the trees in your end of the city fare out? Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, DS. The tree that the parks and rec. crew were removing was on the opposite side of the lake from the one you see damaged in the small photo. That one remains as it is, and will hopefully thrive despite its damage. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks kindly, KC. That look of the green/yellow/angry sky is quite frightening. I've seen it several times, and each time there was a tornado somewhere within the vicinity of about 40 miles. It's quite the predictor as far as I can tell. Thanks for your kind comments. Always very much appreciated. :)

• Thanks, Rain. I was too cowardly to be out on the deck - plus I didn't want to get my camera wet! Rest assured that the elephant tree is just fine. I saw it myself at Frank's just this morning. :)

• Shammie, I'm glad you were safe inside while that storm hit. I know exactly what you mean about the "livid green sky." You've described it well. Monsoon Madness might just endure as a nickname. ;)

• You're probably right about that Frank.. no matter how hard you try to convince me that you're the boss. ;)

JC said...

WOW,Glad you made it though without any personal damage. A tornado hit 1/2 mile from my home earlier this year. Really made me thankful to have been spared.

Reasons said...

I hope you are enjoying your time at the cottage.

Great photos, scary stuff though!

Nancy said...

These storms seem to be increasing in strength. I'm so glad you were safe, but sorry for the loss of all of those beautiful trees, and of course, the child.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Wow!! What a destructive storm!! I'm glad you are safe. We've had rain and storms here in East Texas the past few days.

~JarieLyn~ said...

I am glad you didn't incur any damage to yourself and your house. The thing about storms is that they are exciting and frightening at the same time. Love the image you captured.

I hope you are having fun at the cottage.

Lowell said...

These kind of storms are so scary...I remember many times hiding out in basements in in Florida we have hurricanes which almost always bring tornadoes, fact some of these shots remind me of the aftermath of some of our hurricanes!

Glad you were not harmed.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, JC. I'm sure glad you were spared too. That's just too close for comfort. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks kindly, 123. We did indeed enjoy our time at the cottage. Thanks for the visit. :)

• I agree, Nancy. So much damage and despair for the family of this child. It was a heartbreaker. Thanks for stopping by with your kind comments. :)

• Thanks, Cheffie. It's quite unpleasant to endure, though somewhat exciting at the same time. I hope you'll stay safe too. :)

• Thanks, Jarie-Lyn. You've got that right about the thrill and fear. Thanks so much for your always-kind words. We did have a good time at the cottage. :)

• Thanks very much, Jacob. It sure can be nasty on the southern east coast where you are. I think an impending hurricane would make me very nervous - particularly since there's so much hype about them in the days prior to hitting land. I hope you'll keep safe too. Thanks very much for stopping by. :)

Thumbelina said...

I am so glad you are safe but what a tragedy for the family of the 11 year old.
Don't dawdle too long. No picture is worth it. Even yours, which as always are fantastic. The forces of nature are powerful indeed.

Hilary said...

Wise advice, Thumbelina. Thanks so much for the kind comments. Always very much appreciated. :)

Susie Hemingway said...

I loved the photo after the storm most beautiful. Gosh I would have been very fightened and been down in the cellar very quickly. We have some noisy old storms here in the UK and a couple of years ago an earthquake which we felt strongly. Such damage done to the beautiful trees to. Good post I enjoyed it, will call again.

Louise said...

I guess I don't think of storms that violent being that far north. I'm impressed by your rain shot even if it is not forks of lightning.

Hilary said...

• Welcome, Susie and thanks very much for the kind words. I'm likely to step a little closer to the basement myself next time. The damage was just a little to close for comfort. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you'll be back soon. :)

• Thank you, Louise. We do get our share of tornados here in summer. Usually they're not too serious, but they've been really bad on occasion. Thanks so much for your always-kind words. :)