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Plant Tragedy of the Day

MsExPat's picture


LATE BREAKING NEWS: the National Weather Service now says there were TWO tornadoes. The one in my neighborhood was an EF0, with winds of 80 mph.


Park Slope, Brooklyn, 6pm, today. The weather service isn't officially calling it a tornado yet, but I'm pretty sure it was. Though I've been in hurricanes and Signal 8 typhoons, I've never experienced anything quite like this before. The sky went green, then dark, and the wind whipped through so fiercely that my neighbor's a/c unit was blown in through the window and six feet across the hall!

Now my lovely, leafy neighborhood is a wreck of broken trees. The photo is from the end of my street. It's so sad, it feels like a death of a friend.


I spent the 5 minutes of the tornado frantically pulling the handle of my casement window so it wouldn't fly out (I'd had it open a crack before the storm came without warning, and the winds were so powerful I couldn't get it shut tight.)

My neighborhood is filled with photogs and videographers, so this extreme weather got full coverage on twitter, local blogs, etc. (The NYT has a gallery of reader photos up now.) This video in particular catches the eerie, scary feeling of the storm as it passes over the city of Brooklyn:

(Somewhat upbeat) UPDATE:
This morning I took a walk around the nabe and saw that the big gingko tree on the corner had snapped in two. Mounds of the sticky yellow berries that the Cantonese call "Bak Gwo" were smushed on the street.

What a pity, I thought. In Hong Kong these berries are delicious treats, added to soup and congee. I walked to get coffee, passed by ten minutes later, and spotted this lady:


From her accent, I pegged her as Toisan-ese (the farming province in western Canton). She was very happy. "The fruit isn't ripe yet, but you can still use the nuts. Two dollars a pound at the market in Chinatown!"

Well, I thought, at least there's some happy "fallout" of the Brooklyn plant disaster.

And the pragmatism of the Chinese people never fails to impress me.

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kerril's picture
Submitted by kerril on

I've been reading about this storm and it's incredible! I'm very sorry for your trees, best wishes that your street returns to the beautiful place it was.

koan's picture
Submitted by koan on

Dennis Quaid, where are you..?

oh the irony

koan's picture
Submitted by koan on


votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

glad you're ok.

I guess you are Ms. In-Pat if you're in NY?

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

i grew-up in the midwest. So, I am very familiar with tornadoes. And, yes, the sky turns green. Then darkens. Then the massive energy.

A handy tip should you ever, god forbid, encounter another tornado- do not shut all your doors and windows. If you do, your home may well collapse in on itself. A tornado basically sucks all the air out of a structure, creating a vacuum, which then collapses the building.

In grade school the row of kids sitting next to the windows were charged with opening the windows during a tornado drill and closing the windows during a fire drill. The windows were also opened during nuclear attack drills.

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

The theory was that the interior pressure of your house could cause it to explode when the tornado passes over and produces extreme low pressure outside. The idea was that leaving windows open would allow air to escape, and pressure to equalize, in a non-explosive manner.

This theory was based on observations of houses seeming to explode in the path of a tornado. However, experts -- in part through examination of film and video evidence -- now belief that these apparent explosions are just rapid destruction caused by high winds...and that leaving windows open or closed makes no difference whatever.

I write this with newfound authority as yet another resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn (where we still await confirmation that the destruction was from a tornado rather than linear microbursts).

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

Thanks for the update. My tornado info is old. I haven't lived in the midwest since the mid-70s. Sad, though, that you can't save your house by leaving the windows open.

Submitted by lambert on

I remember the green sky growing up in the midwest, too. Eerie, scary -- scanning the horizon for tornadoes.

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

Two tornados: an F0 in Park Slope and an F1 in Queens, plus a microburst elsewhere in Queens.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Someone just emailed the Times gallery you have linked up above.

Wow. That video is awesome ... love the audio.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

this year. The average has been 7. I didn't even know there were that many. A whole farm was destroyed and two killed who were hiding in the basement like you should.
I too grew up in a tornado alley near Chicago. We were always rushing down into the basement. It's the southwest corner right?

I directed a play in New York City by Jack Heifner called "Twister". It came from a longer play of his called "Tornado". He's from Texas. They know tornadoes. That's why they have separate underground shelters on farms. But most survivors crouched in bathtubs with a mattress and a straw to breath. That of course was before king size mattresses with extra toppers.

And, yes, the sky goes into an evil putrid green. It happened once this summer and it brought back memories of hiding in my college dorm basement and emerging to see destruction of a neighborhood a half mile away. Tore up our roller rink when I was young. My dad had one on his heels as he was driving to my uncle's. My uncle had the door open of his house, my dad pulled up and ran into the basement.

Ah the tornado, fire and nuclear bomb drills of my youth.
Now to call my client who lives in Brooklyn and glad that you are OK Ralph and ex pat.

Brian.Nelson's picture
Submitted by Brian.Nelson on

Yes, seeing a green sky is a little unsettling if not down right frightening. These are some great pictures of the damage. The video was very telling until the it's a safe online casino "uh oh" at the end and then nothing.