Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dexter, MI: F-3 But Dread Naught

Thursday, March 15, 2012
Dexter, MI: F-3 Tornado
Image of storm at Hudson Mills Metro Park

Living in Michigan I have dealt with tornado warnings and watches all my life. The closet that I have ever been to a real tornado was two year's ago when a F-1 touched down briefly 7 miles up the express way from our home in Milan. Thursday's storm hit far too close to home actually 1/4 of a mile from my mother's home was the epic center of destruction. As any adult-child would I was concerned and I was worried when I heard that a tornado had touched down in Dexter, but worry turned to panic when I found out that a colleague's home had the windows blown out 1/4 of a mile from my mother.

- Not being able to get a hold of my mother for 2 hours after the storm hit and having no idea if she were okay.
- Roads blocked off and police barricades not allowing anyone to enter town to get to their homes and families who had lived through the tornado.
- GAWKERS and helicopters and did I mention Gawkers! (We were one of the most popular gawker destinations since all of the other destruction was still barricaded off to prevent looting.) I now have a better idea of how celebrities feel. Not a good one people!
- Picking up tiny pieces of people's possessions scattered all over the yard and field.
- Insulation covering every inch of my mom's home like snow (that we didn't have) at Christmas in December.
- Cleaning up the front porch and roof of the neighbor's home kitty corner to my mom, out of all of the trees, field, and yard.
- Finding out through Facebook that an acquaintance from HS had completely lost his home and all of it's contents. It had sustained a direct touchdown blow from the storm.
- Driving through the quaint town I grew up in and seeing all of the destruction and devastation. Simply surreal.
- Will go on record as the earliest and one of the worst tornadoes on record in Michigan. It is simply unheard of to have a storm this powerful in March in Michigan.

Acquaintance's Home

One of the news helicopters

- Not one person was killed during the storm and only 7 injuries! Now that is truly amazing!
- The immediate response to help those in need. 
- The sense of community that was immediate as everyone joined together to help everyone else out. Amazing!
- The terrific outlooks people had who had been impacted but who all said that possessions and homes can be rebuilt. The fact that there wasn't a death or major injury was more important than the loss of stuff.
- The vast majority of building sustained minor damage because the trees literally fell around them. 
- Finding honeymoon pictures of said  acquaintance from HS, in the field next to my mom's house. As well as his credit card. The tornado had carried them 1/4 mile before dropping them.
- The only damage to my mom's house where two "good" trees. All the dead trees stayed standing, but the two good one's were lost and that was it!
- Being able to follow the debris pattern and realizing that the tornado had swirled around my mom's house but that it seemed that the house had been inside a bubble of protection.

Tree pulled up in my mom's front yard.

Five trees down, but not one of them fell on the house!


 A Snapshot of the Storm: 
A National Weather Service Storm Survey confirmed an EF-3 tornado touched down near Dexter, MI with maximum wind speeds of 135-140 mph. The path length was 7.2 miles with a maximum width of 800 yards. The tornado touched down at 5:17pm just northeast of the intersection of N Territorial and Dexter Townhall Rd. The tornado moved southeast and produced EF-1 damage with winds estimated at 100 mph. Damage was limited to uprooted and snapped trees as well as minor roof damage. The tornado strenthened as it hit the Horseshoe Bend Subdivision (it traveled through my former friend's parent's back yard) with winds estimated at 120 mph and structural damage to the outside of homes. The tornado then continued to track southeast alongside Dexter-Pinckney Rd. and produced EF-3 damage at 5:31pm. Winds estimated at 135-140 mph destroyed one home northwest of Dexter. The tornado then made a left turn and paralleled Huron River Dr.(literally traveling along the river and through my best friend's parent's backyard) producing EF-2 damage on the north side of Dexter. The tornado then produced EF-3 damage again at 5:49pm in the Huron Farms Subdivision with winds estimated at 135-140 mph. One home was destroyed (a acquaintance of mine from HS, we found his credit card and a two pictures of him on his honeymoon in the field next to my mom's home) and another house had only interior rooms left standing. The tornado then weakened as it moved southeast (the trees around my mom's home showed the last of the destruction) and lifted at 5:52pm near the intersection of Zeeb Rd. and Ann Arbor-Dexter Rd. The tornado scale is a 1-5 scale with 5 being the worst. 

"We Are The Dreadnaughts
The Mighty, Mighty Dreadnaughts."


We will Dread Naught the storm, 
but rebuild together with community spirit.
The message on Facebook over the weekend 
was that our school mascot had never been so appropriate 
as the community came together
to fight back and repair the damage left in the wake of the storm.