To say there was "a little weather" in Chicagoland yesterday is a profound understatement. When I went to bed on Saturday night, I was aware we were to have rain, potentially heavy, on Sunday. Around midnight, the weather service changed our "moderate" risk to "high risk" of damaging winds and hail, heavy rains and the potential for tornadoes. I didn't hear any of that.
Sunday, I decided to bring in the deck chairs, finally. I opened the back door and, whoa. The temperatures were hovering around 70 degrees, in mid-November, in Chicagoland. It was so nice, I decided to bring in a chair and then grab my next scarf project and sit on the deck. The sky was heavily overcast so I knew any enjoyment of the mild air would be fleeting.
By the time I collected the next skein of yarn and made it to the back door, it was raining. It was a spotty shower but contained lightning and thunder. I logged onto the computer to check the weather. It was 11:45. The first tornado of the day had hit Washington, Illinois, a suburb of Peoria, a good 2 hour drive south of me.
Concerned, because there was a tornado watch issued for me, I turned on the television. NBC, Channel 5, came up since I'd watched them the last time I'd watched TV. They had graphics and drawings and 3D models. They had been on the air; on the air; since 10:30 a.m. watching this storm. They had red and orange and purple and yellow images. I haven't seen that much of those colors since the psychedelic 1960's. They had charts and arrows and models showing tornadic rotation, all of it heading toward Chicago. I watched, sitting snugly in my recliner. At 12:10, NBC announced another tornado, spawned from the same cell that had passed over Washington, Illinois, was on the ground south of Chicago. It was moving north northeast. The storm track took it well south of Wheaton.
At 12:15, a large cell of this storm line passed over me and started pouring rain. You couldn't see across the street. The lightning was nearly constant for about 5 minutes and the wind made all the trees in the yard groan. But, as quickly as it hit, it passed.
That's what was quite amazing to me, how fast this whole system blasted through Chicagoland. It was moving at 55 to 60 miles per hour.
I turned to Channel 2, CBS, to check on the Bears' football game. There was nothing going on at Soldier Field other than the Baltimore Ravens were leading, 20 minutes into the game, 10 to nothing. Ah yes. It's just another sorry football game in the life of a Bears fan. Normally, I wouldn't care about the Bears but I was curious about the weather in Chicago. They cut away for a commercial and the Channel 2 meteorologist came on screen with updates.
This projected track, the red box, took the storm dangerously close to downtown Chicago and Soldier Field, where there was a football game in progress. My location is in the center of the box, which is the outline of the county where I live, where the "12:00 PM" ends. I wasn't going to be affected by this cell. I would have to deal with heavy rain.
When they cut back to the game, the evacuation order had been given to get people out of the stands as lightning had hit a skyscraper in visible proximity to Soldier Field.
I don't remember the last time I saw a pro football game in Chicago suspended for weather. Baseball gets this all the time, and high school foot ball games can find themselves, in those early season late August and early September Friday night games, running afoul of thunderstorms, but not the Bears. Then they panned the camera skyward.
That's not what went over me. I realized that the cell that went over me had moved, as the whole line of storms moved, north northeast. These clouds were the advance wave of what was in that above red box. I've sat through my share of downpours, sleet, and snow at Iowa football games but there is no way anyone should be in the stands at any event when the threat of severe weather with lightning, hail and high winds are incoming.
For the next 2 hours, the news told of tornadoes destroying sections of towns, perhaps even whole small towns in eastern Illinois. I watched as the rain and wind pounded Soldier Field. At one point, you couldn't see across the field, it was raining so hard. News reports were coming in of tornadoes reported in the south suburbs but it was moving east, more than north. By 2:30 p.m., I had sunshine. The first band of storms well to the east and moving out across Lake Michigan and into Michigan.
Another, smaller, band of showers came through around 4. It was accompanied by extremely high straight-line winds and the cold front arrived around 8. It had been 68 at 11. It was 43 by 8 p.m.
The girls started the adventure with me, Pilchard in my lap and Mija next to me on the recliner. But the thunder scared them so that they found more comfort just sleeping on shirts I left on my bed. I would get up, every 15 minutes or so, and check on them, but they stayed there through the whole afternoon. When the winds picked up, around 4, the power started to flicker, dim and finally went out completely. It would be out for a minute or two and come back on. I'd fix the time on the microwave only to have the power go out. I was also trying to cook supper so I really needed some time without the flickering. I quit fixing the time (in fact, I think it's still wrong) and got supper cooked when the power went out for a good 45 minutes. I wound up eating spaghetti and meatballs in the dark.
Rooting in the closet, I found my flashlight, propped it up on the back of the recliner and spent the time after supper crocheting the next scarf.
Between watching the news and crocheting by flashlight, I got a lot done on this particular scarf. The power came back on for good about 20 after 6.
The devastation is terrible. The stories of survival are incredible. While the latest tornado on record in Chicago is December 4, 1957, and there is a potential for this kind of weather any month of the year, you can't tell me there's not something to climate change. It shouldn't be 70 degrees in November in the Midwest, maybe in Louisiana or Arkansas, but not Chicago. We should be thinking that 50 is balmy at this time of year.
I have some small branches to clean up is all. We're okay. My heart aches for those who lost everything with Thanksgiving only 10 days away.
Beverage: Irish Breakfast tea