Monday, June 9, 2008

Tornado City: Wild Chicago Weekend Weather

This is a photo storm chasers took this weekend - in the middle of the afternoon on a summer day. That is lightning hitting the Sears Tower. Thank God for surge protectors.

It has been about five years (early summer 2003) since I last tried to out run or out smart a tornado on my bike. I got a chance to do it again this weekend. There is nothing like riding for your life. NOAA weather statistics say that this should happen once every 5.6 years...well, there you have it. Just slightly before we are due to have tornadoes like this.

Saturday, Jay and I rode 65 and then I ran about 25 minutes on a trail. It was HOT and unusually HUMID. I'm not sure how hot it was exactly but it was so humid that in a 3 hour and 43 minute ride at ~18.9 mph (aerobic pace) I went through four full bottles 2 MotorTabs and 2 water. When I finished I drank another two and a half bottles. After mowing the lawn, the skies opened up with rain. At 4:45 pm, we heard of a tornado in the SW suburbs just south of my niece, sister-in-law and brother. FOX in Chicago had the best local coverage by far of the weather event. All facts. No clowning around on Saturday afternoon. Bravo. At 7:53 PM, I saw some strange cloud formations which turned out to be a F (zero) tornado which formed and reformed until it was out of site from our second floor. It originally formed about 400 meters from our house! In 20 minutes the temperature dropped 15 degrees F. The first picture is of the tornado that started just outside the house. It did significant damage to the east of us. Thankfully, it couldn't get its act together around our house; the clouds came together and then apart several times.
This is a picture just south of my brother's house where the F2 tornado developed and stuck together for a long time. It did significant damage to the SW suburbs of Chicago, NW Indiana and Michigan.

Sunday was much less dramatic but a funnel cloud was spotted and a heavy rain trailed me all the way back to the house. I just made it back as I left about 8 AM trying to get 25 in. Mike and I were going to try and get in 70 miles but early storms stopped us from trying. At 8 AM, it looked fine so I thought why not try to ride outside. I was very tired from staying up to 3 AM keeping an eye, and ear on the storms. Starting out on Sunday an to be on a bike with a top speed of about 38 mph for only about 4 minutes...I don't like racing a tornado; I was a little nervous. When I saw what was ahead of me I turned around and put on a sprint rarely seen since my college days. My heart rate registered 211 on my HRM. Although I was only out for about 15 miles, I was exhausted and felt like I was going to puke.
At least I got some speed work in.

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