Ok, so it wasn't a huge one, nothing like what the US gets on a regular basis, and occasionally here in Canada. Ottawa has had very few recordings of tornadoes actually in the city. Last Saturday evening, we had one. The weakest kind, an F-O, hit our neighborhood; 6 doors down from our house, the roof was lifted off our neighbors:
The entire roof of both sides of the semi-detached house was lifted right off. We didn't have a warning that anything was coming; it got dark, and suddenly the wind hit, and we ran closing windows and suddenly there was a huge bang, and I thought we'd been hit by lightning (we have a tendency in my family to attract it) and the power went off. The wind was so powerful, but because our house faces south on a side road and not east-west like the houses on Britannia Road, we don't feel it from the west, unlike our neighbors who took the full brunt. About 10 minutes after the wind ended, we saw flashing lights and that was our first clue something had happened. The big bang we'd heard was the roof being lifted right off the walls and landing, right side up, still in one huge piece, on the road. If you look closely, you can see the little furnace stacks. The insulation blew everywhere, and both houses have no ceiling left on the second floor.
This wasn't the only damage, only among the worst - the tornado continued through Britannia up on the heights and knocked more trees down, eventually going to a block 5 km down the road and destroying an apartment building roof - the other major structural damage in the city - before petering out. The miracle? No one got hurt. Here are some news links to the tornado in the city: CTV news , and Ottawa Citizen, which charts the tornado's path.
If you look carefully, you will see that the Gods have their sense of irony, or Coyote was busy that night: the only trees that fell on this street next to ours, fell on cars:
The saddest part, was the damage the tornado did to part of Britannia Park, and the lovely 100 year old trees in one part of it:
This is the play area that my children love, once full of shady pine trees:
The little boy in the orange sweater is my youngest son, and my daughter is in the red sweater in the pictures, my husband the man in the blue jacket. Once we got over the first shock, the kids began to play among the new logs. There were none before in the park. In some of the pictures you can see the children's play structure and the party gondola, both of which were left unscathed by the winds and tornado. I tried to get the path the tornado took through the trees, those lovely pine trees. Before, the park was a lovely park full of shady pines trees. So the break in the trees is what the tornado did. It was new, and it's heartbreaking to see how they were snapped off or pulled up by their roots. It was an awesome display of what the smallest tornado can do. It's the closest I've come to one, and I hope that will be the closest.
We lost power immediately and it wasn't restored until late Sunday evening, by which time the food in my freezer had started to defrost, so I spent Monday cooking what I could of our meat. We're still eating food cooked that day!
The funny thing is, we never got a storm, we didn't get much rain, and after the 10 minutes of wild wind, it was all over. Another ironical thing is that my best friend, who was over for dinner that night, and I were watching a National Geographic show on hurricanes! Later we said it might have been our fault......I know I will never forget that tremendous bang as the roof hit the road, nor the sound of the wind, and how quickly it was all done.
The miracle also - the city had just planted some new baby trees, and in some of the pictures, you can see the trunks fell beside them, but I don't believe any were crushed. There are no bushes in this area of the park, so all that low-lying bushes are really fallen trees and branches. It was really something to behold, and as I walked through, I burst into tears, overwhelmed by the loss of the trees. I realized what Environment Canada took another day to admit - we had had a tornado come through.
The beauty and the awesome terror of nature - it was quite a weekend.
I will be back to blogging about books, soon!