Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Black Friday at 25

Today, July 31, is the 25th anniversary of Black Friday, the Edmonton Tornado.
I was in downtown Edmonton that afternoon. My insights into this singular event are simple: I have none.
What I have is my story. It's not very exciting, but it is mine.
I downtown waiting for a friend to get off shift. I'd parked catercorner from the office building she worked in, had checked in to say I was there, and then went to a local market across the street.
It was sultry. The cool of the market was welcome. Nothing in the market caught my attention so I decided to do something else. I've long since forgotten what I was going to do.
It had clouded over. A few drops of fat, warm rain fell. I decided to change to running shoes before I went anywhere else. The pair I had on were suited to my job interview earlier in the afternoon and good weather, not a possible rain storm.
It was a block's walk to the parking lot at or near 103 St. and 103 Ave. During the two to three minutes I spent changing my shoes the wind came up, but it wasn't raining more than a drop.
I opened my car door.
The wind pushed it back.
I tried again.
I could not get out of my car.
I'm sure I could have gotten out the passenger side, but I decided to wait until the wind died.
For the next 45 minutes I watched as the sky turned dark and violent. Rain pelted down so hard I could hardly see though my windshield.
As it gradually lessened I watched cars on the avenue in front of me splash water over their tires and nearly to their windows. The vehicles were going slow. They still kicked up the water.
Was I scared?
We'd had several violent storms in the days leading up to Black Friday. I quite enjoy the power and might of nature during them. I thought it was just another grand display of Nature's temper.
Once it calmed I went to see my friend and learned it had been a tornado. At that point no one knew much. No damage reported. No deaths.
We learned later the extent of it. I have nothing else to say about it. You can read about the death and devastation in the link.
This post serves but one purpose. It speaks to my desire to scratch my initials in scarred trunk of time and announce to any who will listen: I was there.


carla said...

Id never heard of BLACK FRIDAY before.

Leah J. Utas said...

Carla, it probably wasn't much news outside of Canada. Here it was one of the biggest stories ever.

messymimi said...

We occasionally have tornadoes, i can imagine how horrible the aftermath was.

Nature's displays can be exciting or devastating, can't they?

Leah J. Utas said...

There's nothing halfway about her, Messymimi.

the Bag Lady said...

It certainly changed the attitude of a lot of Albertans regarding tornadoes.
I wasn't there. I have no story. I'm glad your story is what it is.

Leah J. Utas said...

It sure did, Bag Lady. A dark cloud strikes terror in the hearts of some.
It's better to have no story in these matters.

Ron Scheer said...

I grew up in a tornado alley in Nebraska and spent a lot of each summer with my eye to the southwest. Now I live on an earthquake fault, and it's not half so scary (though it probably should be).

Leah J. Utas said...

That's quite an interesting perspective you have, Ron.

Tabor said...

Well written. This might be how many of us see weather disasters, thankfully. We are going to get lots more, so stay in your car.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thank you, Tabor. Good advice.

Hilary said...

I look at storms much as I do flying. Exciting, scary and amazing. I've never experienced anything more than I wee tornado.. and not even directly, at that. I can only imagine how frightening yet exciting they could be. By the way, it's storming around me as I type. Probably time to shut down.

Leah J. Utas said...

Hilary, a wee tornado is more than sufficient, I think.

Reb said...

I was there too. I was on the opposite side of the city from where the tornado struck, in class and when they kicked us out, the rain had settled down a lot. I waited in the parking lot until it mostly had quit and then started the long drive home through flooded underpasses. I almost got washed out by people that didn't know how to drive through flood water. Instant karma though, they soon learned not to speed through the centre when all the other vehicles have one tire up on the side walk and are crawling along at a snail's pace.

Leah J. Utas said...

Reb, thanks for sharing your story.
Most people don't know how to drive through anything other than perfect weather.

Nancy said...

Amazing how those things can happen so fast. I remember all of the tornado warnings when I lived in Minnesota. Scary. They can be on you before you know it. I remember being told to always watch for a green horizon if out driving and to look for a ditch to dive into.

Your header is an incredible picture!

Frank Baron said...

Nature's occasional reminders of who's boss can be awesome and terrifying at once.

Leah J. Utas said...

They sure can, Frank.