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  • Writer's pictureAthanasia Houvarda

Tornado or Downburst?

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

What was that? I was left bewildered, asking this question, trying to figure out what had just happened...

Allow me to describe how Friday, June 4th, felt for me.

It was a beautiful day on Trout Lake that reminded me of my hometown in Greece, Thessaloniki. I woke up, and unlike other days, I felt the warm weather from the early morning. So, I knew it was going to be a nice day. I got dressed, opened the windows widely to get the fresh morning breeze, made myself a coffee, and went on the deck to enjoy the water's stillness and nature's quietness around me with my husband, Dan. Ten minutes later, I rushed into the house because the annoying mosquitoes and the black flies were feasting on my legs and arms. I was secretly hoping for some wind to keep the insects away, but I shouldn't complain because days like these are rare.

A few hours later, life around the lake started picking up. I could hear the voices of children jumping in and out of the water and the people on their pontoon boats cruising on the lake. I put on sunscreen, wore my hair in a ponytail, and got busy with yard work. Around 6 pm, I decided I had enough sun for one day and went into the house.

About an hour later and suddenly, a strong wind forced me to go out on the deck and rescue my plants. The sky had a weird green-yellowish color with gray clouds in the distance that looked like we were going to get some rain.

I started moving the pots. We only have 10, and I won't go into why, but let's say that plants have a hard time surviving in my hands. I was moving them one by one, and I managed to move 6 out of the ten before I had to run into the house, chased by the wind that was getting worse with every passing second. It was then that I asked myself, "What is that?"

Only seconds later, the heavy rain started, and I went into the office to shut the screen door while Dan ran out to save the table that was about to be flipped by the strong wind. But by the time he got out, the table was already flipped.

Our lovely dog Kona and Dan, ran inside the house, and while all this was taking place, I was still fighting against the wind for the screen door. It felt like the air was trying to rip it off the hinges. I called Dan, and he came to help me rescue it.

Finally, all doors were shut just in time to keep the heavy rain and hail from coming into the house. Kona was so scared that she ran into my arms, looking me in the eyes, pleading to make this stop. I wish I could! We both sat on the floor in the center of the living room, and I petted her for the whole 5-minute duration of the insane wind, rain, and hail episode.

I was overlooking the lake from the floor of our living room and through the screen doors, observing the water's surface changing color. At first, the water took a grey-yellowish color while it was fiercely moving in all directions. Suddenly, I saw a thick white layer covering the water in the distance and asked myself again, what is that? I quickly realized that what I saw were waves, which is very unusual to witness on our small lake. Then, I felt the floor trembling, almost like an earthquake. I have to admit, by then, I was very concerned. In my mind, images of the screen doors smashing by the force of the wind made my heartbeat rise like the waves on the lake.

What seemed like a long time only lasted five to seven minutes. Everything started to get back to normal except for the sky. Thunders were zapping every few seconds between the dark clouds in the sky. The rain was still heavy, and the wind was still strong, but it was not even close to what it was a few minutes earlier.

We stayed where we were for the next 30 minutes, observing nature's power.

Finally, everything went quiet, and we could hear the birds chipping again. I went out on the deck to convince myself that it was over. I looked at my plants; the plants survived. I looked at the table that was now flipped; I was amazed to see that its glass top didn't break. The only thing that broke was a glass jar I kept on the table. Phew.. that was close, no damages, we are good!

And then my eyes went to our neighbor's yard, and what I saw left me utterly gobsmacked!

This is the first view I got of the result of the insane storm.
Ripped off the ground

Around 10-12 trees fell in their yard and on one of their vehicles.

We were lucky, but from what we learned later, more of our neighbors took a nasty hit by the storm.

No one was hurt, and no pets were injured. Docks and pontoon boats were blown away and damaged, sheds and vehicles were also damaged, and a broken trailer roof and a few hydro poles that left camps without power for over 48 hours were also reported.

But what made our hearts sink were the hundreds of trees vigorously pulled out from the earth and thrown onto the ground. The sight of the trees downed, blocking roads and driveways, was a hard thing to watch. You couldn't hear the squirrels or the chipmunks the next day, only the sound of chainsaws working away. And that made me even sadder.

For the weekend that followed, everyone was offering a helping hand to those that were impacted. People were going back and forth from camp to camp, carrying branches and helping with clearing down trees. And, like any other situation in life, it's good to focus on the positive outcome.

We are all immensely relieved that this unexpected insane storm hurt no one. And it was interesting to watch how this experience brought us closer as a community and how supportive everyone is; I feel very fortunate to be part of it.

To read more, follow the link from the local news site.

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