Storms over the Canadian Prairies

We’ve returned from our whirlwind trip to Punta Cana and taking this B.C. Day to recover. I thought I would still get this video posted today to share something we saw on the plane ride home.

On route from Toronto to Vancouver, we caught these thunderstorms over the Canadian Prairies, looking north somewhere over Manitoba and Alberta. I’ve flown enough to see storms from above before, but nothing like this. After watching the show for a little while, I made a mad grab from my camera to shoot some video of it. It’s not the best quality, but some of the lightning displays are pretty amazing.

This was tough to shoot in terms of blocking any reflection in the window. Being dusk to complete darkness outside, I thought I would try anyway. Sadly it was just too dark to take any photo or video of the lines of flames I saw from some of the wildfires in the interior, and those gave me bigger chills than the lightning show.

Midwest Summer Storms

This was published originally on as apart of Blogathon 2009.


Hanging out at WorkSpace today for Blogathon, Rebecca snapped this great picture. It’s one of many, many streaks of lightning that filled the sky in the late afternoon, and these things aren’t that common. I don’t think I’ve seen a storm like that in about four years, which is when I moved here from eastern Iowa.

In the Midwest, you expect these things, and that’s because you have to.

As I watched the wall cloud come in over Mt. Seymour, that was a site that would strike a little fear into your gut as it came out of the horizon back home. What followed that was anyone’s guess. Intense wind to bust up trees, torrents of rain that could sweep your car off the road, baseball sized hail that would lead to cheap new car prices on damaged stock, or the ever friendly tornado that might knock on your door as an uninvited guest.

Watching the lightning zap the holy hell out of the mountains, it reminded me of those times when it was, “Get to the basement!” And it always seem like at that very moment, you’ve got to pee. The adrenaline kicks in and you do what you’ve been told over and over to do in school, but you still have this worst timing hit you at the same time.

That’s because tornadoes are pretty damn scary. They are additively fascinating to try and catch a glimpse of, but you just don’t want it to get too close because I’ve driven through towns that were ripped apart on a direct hit. I’ve grasped onto my mother under a blanket while the wind thumped against our house, sort of saying good-byes to each other through mutual I Iove yous.

That was one of my first times being on the radio when WMT called our house to speak to a witness. I barely had my nerves together enough to say my name correctly yet alone recount all the trees and power lines down in our neighborhood.

Everyone seems to have a personal story or knows a story of someone else with experiences like this. You can never be too careful when it comes to any storm, but the one that reached downtown today was fairly impressive in its own right. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen something like that.

Photo credit: penmachine on Flickr

This is winter time in Vancouver

Kat Kam - Dec 20, 2007 @ 16:45

I noticed this from work today. The mountains look so incredible this time of year. Rebecca said it best. When it’s summer and everything is green to the point where you can see every single tree on the sides of the mountains, the mountains seem so close. Then when it’s cold and snow capped, they seem so far away.

As long as the snow stays up there, where it’s far away, I’m cool with that.

Thanks to the KatKam for the picture.

A tornado nearly two miles wide

The other day, Rebecca and I were on the topic of the recent tornado that swept through Greensburg, Kansas. She said something to the effect that she heard that it was two miles wide. I could not believe that and was assured that she had her facts a little misconstrued, if not a little off. Growing up in the Midwest, I’ve been through my share of scares and seen a few funnel clouds. Haven’t seen, first hand, a lot of tornadoes on the ground, but it’s one of those things that everyone just knows about.

Shockingly, I was wrong, and she was right.

Since the tornado flattened Greensburg on Friday night, emergency responders have struggled to find out how many of its 1,600 residents may be safely staying with friends or relatives, rather than in shelters.

The massive tornado, an enhanced F-5 with wind estimated at 205 mph, was part of a weekend of violent storms that tore across the Plains and were also blamed for two other deaths in Kansas.

The death toll could have been much worse, but for a 20-minute warning – a rarely issued “tornado emergency” alert – that gave people time to take shelter in basements and storm cellars. [myway]

Greensboro, KansasLook at this photo, too. When I heard the initial reports that the city was basically wiped off the face of the earth, you think that it’s just journalistic sensationalism. After reading that, I think about what it was like to go through the handful of close calls in my lifetime and how intense a storm like that could be. In fact, I couldn’t imagine.

Growing up, there was the small town Worthington, smaller than the small town I grew up in, that was hit straight on by a tornado. The trail of debris and destruction was, as I recall, was a few hundred feet wide. Basically, you could follow the exact path, and it was one of those typical scenes. What was tore to shreds in one place, the object next to it was pristine and not damaged at all. Even though we were total gawkers, checking out the destruction in our car and getting on the nerves of the National Guard who were there to clean things up, I learned exactly why you need to take tornadoes seriously.

Ever been huddled under a blanket in the corner of the basement while waves of rain, wind, and chunks of trees slam into the house above you? It was enough to have my mother start saying her last goodbyes, and I was right there with her. That wasn’t even a tornado. Microbursts[wiki] are just as hair raising, as I discovered on that one summer afternoon. Our house was spared, but within five minutes, we lost a lot of trees in our neighborhood. I did end up getting cut on my arm while helping with the cleanup, and there was no power until the next day.

It’s unbelievable to think that a tornado struck a town straight on at a width of nearly two miles wide. That is a vision of a nightmare, and I have a hard time wrapping my head around this fact. Envisioning it is scary enough. I feel for those who were affected. Even though I’ve kinda been there, what happened in Greensburg is a hundred times worse. Can only hope that they have the strength to rebuild. Rebuild an entire town, that is.

A very Vancouver weekend

20070311(002) Rain. So many people are going to be talking about it, but this has been a stereotypical weekend in Vancouver. Not the gentle mist or light rain that is more common place. Instead, nice, steady drops of water, seemingly never ending as they fall to the earth.

We made ventures downtown to find massive puddles in the intersections, proof that even the sewer drains were struggling to keep up with the amounts. Just trying to navigate through the crowds of people was enough to drive one a bit mad. It never fails that you run into that one group of about six folks who are walking along the sidewalk at a snail’s pace, taking up the whole width of the walkway. Give them all umbrellas and ye’ abandon all hope of getting ahead of them.

Riding the SeaBus to meet up with our friends for yet another Canucks PPV game(three in one week is just slightly annoying), I told Rebecca that this is a very, upper northwest day.

Weather Bonk

Weather BonkTod Maffin mentioned this on his blog sometime ago, and it’s too much fun to not pass on. Weather Bonk is a great mashup of Google Maps and The Weather Channel, not to mention a variety of other great utilities.

I use a combinations of widgets to get the current weather for Vancouver on my desktop, but the Route Weather is a pretty amazing tool for mapping out the forecast of your road trip. I also love the variety of webcams that you can locate with the map. The site seems to have a pretty good pulse on what is available for nearly every major city in North America.

Be careful. You could end up toying around with this site for hours.

It’s oh so cold

Call it whining if you want, but it’s freaking cold. Snowed about three days ago, and the temp hasn’t reached much above freezing since then. More pictures of some of the recent snow in Vancouver can be found here.

Sure, it’ll be a short time until it stops freezing and the rain starts up again. And yes, their is plenty of breath to be seen by those living in the prairies. Still no snow or long cold snaps in areas of Ontario where they should be having the weather we are having. In fact, reports from my family in the upper midwest of the U.S. say that they’re enjoying Vancouver type weather more than we are in Vancouver, just minus all the rain.

By the way, you have got to check out these pics of a recent ice storm to hit areas of Nebraska. Amazing shots for sure. My dad’s side of the family are mostly in the eastern portions of the state. Reports from them stem from having no power for nearly a whole day to an entire week. Now THAT is an ice storm. I’ll take an inch or two of snow on the ground any day compared to that.

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the climate change debate. I’m inclined to post about it more in the future. You have to admit, things just ain’t the way they used to be.

Good day for a coffee walk

It’s just something you do on a day like today. Below freezing temps, hardly any wind, all the sun you could ever ask for, and a hot coffee in your hand. It’s been a nice two weeks to have Rebecca off from work, even if we haven’t left the city. In due time, you can bet that we’ll plan on making our holidays in much warmer climates. Not the greatest quality, but the cellphone can only do so much.

Braving the winter takes on new meaning

IMG_9689 We’ve been busy with getting everything set for the holidays. That pretty much means shopping. I’ve been taking care of a few various projects in between, but we ventured out to Stanley Park today with Rebecca’s dad. I went running yesterday, and the park was in pretty bad shape.

Last Thursday night, I woke up around 3AM to the sounds of wind. Massive amounts of wind. You could hear various pieces of debris rolling around outside, so I got up to peak out the windows. They are saying that we experienced hurricane force winds in the category two range, but it didn’t take me very long to make sure that everything was okay in the apartment and gather flashlights in the event that we lost power. Rebecca, on the other hand, slept all the way through it.

Luckily, we didn’t lose power in our end of the city. Other folks were not so fortunate, and I got a message from DaveO that tells me that North Vancouver experienced some outages. Word from Surrey said that some folks took a hit as well. Trees are damaged all over downtown through.

About running the park yesterday, it was a mess. I had to tiptoe around a lot of fallen foliage, some much larger in various spots. Heading back in today, I was sure to bring the camera along(see them on Flickr here). It looked like a war zone in some spots.

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) – It looks like a crime scene.

And the trees are the victims.

Crews are asking the public to stay out of a battered Stanley Park.

Yellow caution ribbon is strung across pathways littered with branches and tree-trunks.
A trades foreman with the park board, Gary Gilder, says the wind damaged trees are a real danger.

“……and a lot of trees in the bus hung up…..against other trees….that have not quite fallen over so it’s…I would say stay out of the park until the end of the weekend”

The park itself will be closed for the weekend. That includes the seawall, the Vancouver Aquarium and bright nights Christmas attraction.[cknw]

IMG_9690 Yeah, I guess you could say that the park was closed, but we got ourselves inside and checked out the damage. However, I wouldn’t recommend it at all. Trails are cut off all over the place, not to mention that the seawall was blocked off at the point where you can take Beaver Creek trail up to Beaver Lake. And what trails you can find access to are bound to be blocked off at some point. You get past one tree to only find another.

When I went running through yesterday, there was no automobile traffic whatsoever. Getting around Brockton Point, I couldn’t even run on the bike path. They’re doing some reno to the lighthouse area, so all Seawall traffic is forced onto the upper route around the backside. Just beyond that, you could see that they worked a path through the fallen trees and branches for authorized vehicles to get into the area, but it was a tight squeeze. I actually passed a variety of people walking on the road in the opposite direction who, like me, didn’t know that the park was officially closed.

It’s really sad to see. I fear that it’s going to be a long time before anyone can safely or completely venture through the entire park. It’s a great place to go running or wandering through. I hope to see things restored as soon as possible. For only living here as short as I have, I’ve really come to love that park. It won’t be the same, but I’ll be anxious to see it back again.