Southeastern Connecticut doesn’t usually have many exciting weather events and I’ve pondered whether I should bother to write about the wild thunderstorm we had Thursday morning. Maybe it has just taken me this long for me to gather my wits about me again.
I was at the computer, perhaps playing Scrabble, enjoying the start of a day all to myself. Heard some rumbling of thunder and didn’t think much of it, except that it rarely thunders in the morning here and it seems to be happening a bit lately. Then a blue jay started calling at my window, very insistently. I finally got up to see what all the fuss was about. When I came to the window it flew off the balcony to a nearby tree, now quiet, but staring at me. The storm was coming on fast and I didn’t like the feel of it. Then suddenly it was right overhead – it felt like someone was dropping boulder after boulder on the roof and the house was shaking. The lightning was striking fast and furious, crackling and sizzling like it was ripping the air to shreds.
About 8:45 I turned on the TV just as the station was interrupting programming and two meteorologists appeared with their dazzling technology. They pointed right to our town where the darkest red indicator was right overhead. They zoomed in – there was our street right under the reddest red. There was a tornado warning, too, and Dr. Mel informed us that this was the first early morning tornado warning ever issued in the history of southeastern Connecticut. Then he advised us to turn the TV up really loud and go down to the basement.
I didn’t do it. I froze in fear. It makes me wonder about my ability to respond appropriately in an emergency. When I spoke to my sister about it she said instinct probably was making me play dead like a terrified bunny.
There were multiple reports of a funnel cloud over the river, but later in the day authorities determined it was smoke coming from an industrial stack. Then the civil defense sirens started wailing from 9:02 to 9:05. (By now I was taking notes…) I kept expecting some sort of announcement from the loudspeakers but there was no message. A warning with no instructions – very puzzling. I kept watching the TV as the storm moved to the east, until it left our area and regular programming resumed.
A news report quoted one woman saying, “I scooped up my 3-year-old out of a dead sleep, grabbed him and ran into the bathroom. I heard the sirens go off, which seemed like forever.” Maybe if I had a child to protect I would have been less paralyzed, maternal instinct might have kicked in.
After it was gone the experience seemed surreal, as if I had dreamed it. But Nate called to see how I was, since Tim was away visiting his brother in England, so I guess it did happen. He saw 4 or 5 lightning strikes right outside his window at work. I never looked out the window, probably a wise move. It was the worst thunderstorm I have ever experienced! Although it probably wouldn’t have seemed that bad to someone who lives in Kansas… The storm did leave behind downed trees and wires, and flooded streets. Several homes were hit with lightning and there were power outages.
The blue jay came back to sit on the balcony again, apparently no worse for wear. But it was trying out some different sounding calls. Wish I could have understood its version of the disturbance!
The following is from the town webpage:
Shortly before 9am on August 5th, the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for New London County and targeted Groton and our immediate shoreline being at highest risk. The Town’s emergency sirens, located throughout town, were activated in response to this immediate threat to life and property.
This event was the first time the emergency sirens were activated for a tornado warning and this tornado warning was the first issued for our area in recent memory. Due to the extreme weather patterns we have experienced over the past year or so, the chance of more storms of this type cannot be discounted.