Last night I was watching Rockstar when the weather guy, Kent, cut in. He told me all about a nasty storm heading into the area from the north, and sure enough, I could see the leading clouds, gray and heavy, to the east through the windows flanking the TV.
We got about ten more minutes of Rockstar before Kent was back, updating the track of the storm, which, at that point, was heading right for us. Kent also said that the storm was packing high winds, hail, and possible tornados.
About twenty minutes after that, the tornado sirens went off and the wind picked up. I went out the back door to put away things that would blow away and to move smaller plants into sheltered areas. As we were finishing I noticed the neighbor pulling chairs to the middle of their back yard, facing north, watching the storm.
By this time, Rockstar was effectively preempted. Kent tracked the storm minute by minute. In the back yard, we watched lighting splay in fingers through the clouds for a while before it seemed to clear up a little. Further investigation in the front yard and on the radar map showed that the storm was sliding to our east.
We got the wind. We got the lightning. We got NO rain! It didn’t shift much; I’m sure the base (five miles southwest) got some but I haven’t verified it yet.
Then it got stranger. The wind, which had been gusting from the north, shifted to gust from the south as the storm passed us. My tomato plants, which had been stoically standing up to the north wind, threatened to topple over. (They’re heavier on the north side of the pots.) We did a little more rearranging and finished just in time to see a power substation, probably at least a mile due east of us, pop and catch fire. Our power blinked but stayed on.
We had the better part of an hour to watch two more red pops and one blue one, and the first responders who came to deal with them. I have no idea what they were or why they were different colors. Eric might know, but he would give me the $5.00 answer instead of the $1.00 answer, and I haven’t had enough coffee to follow that whole explanation.
We saw enough of the news to learn that the Cards game was interrupted by the storm. Hurricane force winds (80 mph) ripped through St. Louis, knocking part of a partially renovated building onto the Eads Bridge. It was closed for a couple of hours and caused additional traffic problems for those who were trying to escape from Busch Stadium. Those same winds knocked lamp posts and traffic light poles flat onto the ground. One lamp post was made from ten inches of concrete and broke in two places. Lambert International Airport lost part of the roof of the main terminal.
We lost power around 10:15, and it stayed off about four hours, as near as I can tell. I woke up briefly when the ceiling fan turned back on. Eric was apparently awake when it happened because he rolled out of bed muttering about four hours without power and went to turn off lights downstairs that we’d missed. Personally, I think maybe we were pretty lucky to get the power back on so soon. It’s going to be hot today and I fell asleep trying to figure out where we could go in the hot part of the day. I’m glad not to have to worry about that. I think I’m happy to take hot but calm today and to count air conditioning among my blessings again.