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What’s up Mother Nature?!

August 26, 2011

Living where I do, talk about the weather isn’t always just idle talk. Starting with living in Canada itself, where bad weather can mean anything from -40 to 4 ft of snow to a massively humid +35 to flooding and now and then tornadoes or hurricanes.  Living in certain areas of Canada can, of course, increase the probability of any one of these occurrences. Sometimes all of them in a calendar year. Especially if you happen to live in a snow belt. Welcome to London, Ontario – home of every type of weather and some odd geological events.

This year, mother nature picked this week to be rather nasty. Last Saturday was overcast for most of the day with high humidity. There I was, nattily dressed for my lil sis’ wedding, hanging about on a golf course being positioned here and there for photos. Looking up towards the northwest, I looked at the line of clouds rolling in and remarked to her brother, “I think this should be the last pic here today.” Shortly, and I mean in less than a minute, I was bundling the bride into a golf cart, vaulting into my own with another two of the wedding party and making tracks (literally) for the clubhouse. The wind had promptly picked up and rain was pelting down just as we pulled up. Sigh. So much for the wedding on the veranda.

Having slept in comfortably after a rousing reception, Sunday was to be grocery day.  Almost too bright and sunny, the humidity still hadn’t really left the air despite the continuous rain the day before. A light breeze made the short walk enjoyable. 40 minutes later, struggling home with a full backpack and several additional bags, I looked up to see yet another line of clouds approaching. Trotting as quickly as we could, we managed the short walk home just in time to see massive raindrops plummet from the sky. Whew. Safe again.

Unfortunately, while London received some heavy bursts and thundershowers, a short way north of us was treated to a lively and devastating tornado. Goderich, known as Canada’s Prettiest Town was mulched by a tornado in all of about 12 minutes.  Not enough time to warn anybody. The town square was torn to shreds and one man was killed at the salt mine.  People all over southwestern Ontario were quick to mourn his loss and mention how lucky they were to have only lost one life, given the devastation.  And as many small towns do, they rallied round and started the clean-up, aided by volunteers from around the area.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when, during a telecon with a subcontractor in Toronto, we had to pause because one of them said “hang on, we’re having an earthquake.” All very calmly and only waiting a few minutes before proceeding with “it was barely anything – let’s continue.”  When I got back on another telecon not 10 minutes later, everyone in Sterling Heights was chattering about the earthquake as well. I don’t think they actually felt it, but had heard about it. There’s also the fact that our head office is in Falls Church, Virginia. Right near the epicenter of the 5.9 earthquake.  Lots of chatter about that all day. Some people claim to have felt it in London, but I didn’t personally experience anything.

Wednesday rolls around – we’re scheduled for a league slo-pitch game and its sunny, so I’m thinking, “Hurray – ball game tonight!” Slow down a minute – at about 10 am, we all receive a work bulletin (which we normally ignore) stating that Environment Canada has raised a tornado watch for London-Middlesex County. What?!  Ok, bad storms are one thing. Then an earthquake. But now another tornado?  For the record, we do not live in Tornado Alley!

As I have an office with windows, I nervously peek outside from time to time and monitor the weather networks and Twitter. I notify my gf, in case she hadn’t heard, and message my colleague who also happens to be my ride to ball. She’s not concerned – she wants to go to ball. A giddy ‘lol’ and I’m back concentrating on work. Throughout the day the wind keeps up, the humidity keeps up and the watch is not removed.  Alrighty then, off to ball we go. I’m thinking, this is not the best idea but, what the hell, we play in anything but lightning storms, right?

We do manage to get through the full nine innings where its dark as heck and just enough raindrops to make you think something is coming.  Off the field and – bam! My cel starts ringing and blinking and whatever to all get out. Everybody seems to want to get a hold of me. I put off one call because its thinking about raining and take the next from my gf. Alert! London-Middlesex’ rating just raised to tornado warning – get your butt home or somewhere safe. Yikes! Pile in the truck and start texting (I’m not driving) the rest of the girls with the warning. My pal’s response? “I’ve got errands to run, but thx” Are you serious? Errands?! I do my due diligence and throw back – “Errands can wait – get home!”

We get home, keeping our eyes peeled for anything that might warn us to go to ground (where, we have no idea) and the boy (my teammate’s 15 yr old son) cracks jokes at a mile a minute. Finally home and start unplugging everything and heading to the basement to wait out the storm – a final look out the front picture window shows a huge full-sky flash of lightning and the darkest roiling clouds I’ve ever seen.  We hunker in the basement for a few hours until the warning is called off, but thankfully a large amount of rain, thunder and amazing sky-brightening lightning was all we were to receive.  Goderich and area was hit again and other parts of south/southwestern Ontario were hit worse, but not us.

Today, the humidity was reduced but the threat of rain hung around all day.  Pretty darn calm is all I can say after the first part of the week.

So hey Mother Nature – can you give it a rest for a bit?

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