Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Great Tornado of 2008

Where were you during the the Great Tornado of 2008? Were you at the Cubs game, being evacuated to the stadium concourse? Were you filming the meteorological events from your downtown high-rise?

The Peevies spent the evening in basement, having an impromptu family movie night. We wrapped ourselves in blankies and cuddled up on the couches and watched Hercules, which was better than I remembered.

Danny DeVito, as Phil, even had a singing role! Awesome. Also awesome: James Woods as Hades. Apparently they re-wrote a lot of his lines, and he ad libbed a bunch more, because in his audition, he played the character as a fast-talking, smooth operator, and the casting directors liked this rendition better than how it was originally conceived.

In one of my favorite lines, Pain and Panic defended themselves against the charge that they didn't kill Hercules as instructed with this hilarious exchange:

"This might be a different Hercules."

"Yeah, I mean, Hercules is a very popular name nowadays."

"Remember, like, a few years ago, every other boy was named Jason and the girls were all named Brittany?"


Anyhoo, there we were, safe in our basement, with the radio in the background repeating the warnings to seek cover and describing the progress of the fast-moving storm. We'd pause the movie periodically to listen to the update. I probably should have resisted this urge, because it only increased A. Peevie's anxiety--but I couldn't help myself. It's not every day that we get tornadoes headed for the city limits.

It made me wonder how often it does actually happen, so I did a little research. This report from the National Weather Service Forecast Office is kind of interesting. Did you know that
  • there were 92 significant tornadoes in the Chicago area between 1855 and 2008?
  • the deadliest Chicago-area tornado killed 33 people in 1967? and this one actually did hit the city limits, on the South Side.
  • it's been 18 years since the last F4 or stronger tornado--and the NWS says that means "the Chicago area is overdue for a major tornado"?
Scroll down this USAToday link for the answer to a question about tornadoes in downtown Chicago. The author reports that tornadoes have struck within the city limits three times, in 1876, 1961, and 1967.

And finally, I will leave you with this AP story about the storm, with an inadvertently hilarious last line. What does it even mean?

(Photo courtesy of the National Severe Storms Laboratory.)


nicole said...

Okay, I am just annoyed!!! Growing up in Iowa, I spent a fair amount of summer evenings in our basement tornado room. I take these things very seriously and could be considered A. Peevie like in my anxiety. When I heard the siren last night, even though my hubby argued that it wasn't the siren, don't argue with an Iowa girl about sirens, I immediately rushed to the television. There was nothing to be seen about the storm on any of the local channels.
I realize that a few stations broke into their programming briefly to tell you to take cover, but what if you weren't on that channel at the right moment? I always get annoyed when I am in Iowa and a storm starts and all programs cease so that we can listen to the meterologist tell you to take cover. I won't be annoyed again. They are precise and informative. They tell you what town needs to take cover and even what part of town. I do not understand why that does not happen here. There!! I am done venting

E. Peevie said...

Damn, girl!

It's evolution, as clear as the gigantic skin tag on my right shoulder. The Iowans have developed a survival mechanism that includes meteorologists getting their 15 minutes of fame.

Here in the Big City, where tornadoes have only struck three times, we have not yet developed that survival response.

Storm news may not have been on the TV stations, but it was definitely on the radio.

Anyway, I'm glad you had a chance to vent. That's what we at the Green Room are here for.

Boy George said...

Nicole: That's really strange that the local stations weren't showing anything about the warnings Monday night. Usually if there's a possibility of a tornado anywhere in the mega-county area, they have a warning scroll on the screen (and I look around at the sky, wondering where all the excitement is).

I was at a square dance in Andersonville, and only heard about the tornado warning during one of the breaks, when somebody mentioned it. We heard the thunder and saw plenty of lightning, but apparently the caller's sound system covered up any siren that may have sounded in the area. I was just glad I hadn't left the windows wide open at home...

E., do you recommend "Hercules"?

Mr. Peevie said...

Nicole, in addition to listening to WBBM radio (in its "all weather, all the time" mode), C. Peevie did his meteorologist impersonation by tracking the storm on National Weather Service radar with our laptop in the basement. So the next time we have severe weather, bring the hubby and the tots over; we'll track that storm for you.

nicole said...

Mr. Peevie. The Tots were my problem. (hence my need for exact information) Do I dare wake 14 month old twins for a trip to the basement and three hours of wakefulness?? Believe me next time we'll be at your house, at least there will be lots of people to keep them occupied.

E. Peevie said...

And yes, Boy G, I recommend Herc. It's no Toy Story, for sure, but it's entertaining, and has pretty quick-witted dialogue and references to art, literature, and other movies if you catch them. (I didn't, but I read about them on IMDB.)

Anonymous said...

There were tornado sirens in Chicago? I thought it was windy out there. I was playing Monday Night Poker with the church crowd in East Town, or Southeast Wicker Park or whatever. It was scary windy outside, but the 100+ yr old 4-story brick building never creaked or budged. It was like a fortress, and if you didn't look out the window, you didn't know there was even a storm. From Bucky.

E. Peevie said...

Buck, Did you really not know there were tornado warnings and sirens and huge branches being ripped from trees and Wrigley Field being evacuated? Boy. I guess you must have been winning big at Poker Night. E.P.