Friday, April 10, 2015

Watching Scary, Fatal Illinois Tornado In Real Time

Yesterday's giant tornado ripping through Rochelle, Ill.  
Us weather geeks, and some of the general public have been doing this for a few years now, but it still fascinates me.

With instantaneous media and technology, we watch disasters unfold in real time. We don't learn about them after the fact anymore.

So it was last evening as we watched an enormous, fast moving tornado rip across the northern Illinois countryside, live on our laptops and smart phones.

There were live feeds, videos and photos of the tornado and its damage put up minutes or seconds after the event happened, ever-changing radar images showing the progress of the storm and who would be targeted next.

The guilty part of this? It's disaster as live entertainment. Like a reality show,

Entertainment is a harsh word in this context, of course. I, and surely most people, were not happy or applauding to see the gigantic twister threaten lives and property.

We felt a sense of dread, not excitement, when we saw images of Grubsteakers Restaurant in Rochelle, Illinois, instantly reduced to rubble during the peak of the evening dining hour. Did anyone in there survive?  
Another image of that giant Illinois tornado.  

Happy spoiler alert: The restaurant's owner, a real hero, barked orders for everybody to go into a basement storm shelter as the storm approached. They were all trapped down there when a wall fell on the door, but were rescued, dusty but uninjured, about 90 minutes after the storm struck.

So it wasn't entertainment, exactly, maybe more like fascination, as the giant tornado kept at it on our computer screens. The storm was incredible, as most big tornadoes are. Its forward speed was frightening as it charged across the flat Illinois landscape.

Above the actual stout, wedge-shaped funnel, a fat, ragged cyclinder of clouds raced in a circle overhead. The clouds were white on the forward facing side as the sun tried to break through the clouds at the edge of the storm, and brown and black in the rest of the maelstrom.

Little fingers, mini funnels, sometimes reached out horizontally rom the main tornado. That's why we were glued to our screens watching this. It was a monster. A monster movie. Except the storm was real, and real people were suffering.

Unlike in a reality show, there were no winners.

The tornado killed one person, and injured at least eight others. Given the size of this storm, I suppose we're lucky it didn't kill more people. Still, one death and those injuries and that extensive damage is too much.

We'll go back today and look at some more updated videos, some of which are at the bottom of this post.

The tornado season is still young, and other large tornadoes could devastate other quiet Midwestern towns this spring and early summer.

When the next big tornado comes, we'll be back watching it live. And hoping the storms stay entertaining. By that I mean, completely missing any towns, villages, houses or farms.

From Live Storms Media, here's the Illinois tornado crossing Interstate 39:

Next video via Facebook, Stephanie Curtis:

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