Chatham Tornado 7/23/19

Somehow, and we are at a loss as to how, Alabama weather was packed away with our belongings when we moved to Massachusetts back in January. Since the official start of summer, the weather has been more “Alabama-Lite” than typical Cape Cod summer.

I say Alabama-Lite because we have never encountered the combination of heat and humidity that was common to the Huntsville area. True, for two weeks temperatures on the Cape were in the upper 80’s to low 90’s, but the breezes from Nantucket Sound, the Atlantic coast and Cape Cod Bay kept the temperatures lower than they were further inland. The humidity was high also, again almost like Alabama where the simple act of standing outside and talking to someone left you drenched in sweat as though you had just played 5 sets at Wimbledon.

The final act in the attempt to emulate Alabama weather came in the form of a tornado, which not uncommon for Alabama, is extremely rare for Cape Cod. It has been a week now since the tornado danced along the Nantucket Sound coast, wreaking havoc and damage from Yarmouth to Chatham. There were water spouts spotted just off shore from Hyannis, then landfall in Yarmouth, back out to sea where water spouts were seen off West Dennis and Dennisport, back on land at Harwichport, than back out to sea just off Chatham, finally tracking out into the Atlantic. Fortunately there were no fatalities. There were a few injuries, sadly from elderly Cape residents falling as they scrambled to get into their basements and tripped on stairs. There was some property damage, but not extensive, no buildings or homes were obliterated.

The storm did come quickly. I saw one warning posted on Facebook by a friend so we turned on the TV to see what that was all about. We were shocked to see that the tornado was approaching Chatham and we had about 10 minutes to get to safety. At about the same time my brother-in-law, who lives about 2 miles from us, texted that he and his wife were going into their basement and we should to. We were in our basement by 12:20 PM, within a minute we heard the howling of the wind through the trees in our yard. As quickly as the storm came, it passed through just as quickly. We were very fortunate, just a few branches down in the yard and we were without power for 30 hours.

Repair crews swarmed over the Cape during the next few days and by last Friday, power was restored to all consumers. I am certain that, given Cape Cod is such a tourist destination and it is the height of the summer tourist season, that the lost revenue and tax dollars to Commonwealth of Massachusetts had something to do with quick response. But the area affected was quite small, so resources could be gathered and concentrated for recovery actions.

Extent of storm damage in our yard, very lucky!
High winds flipped plane upside down at Chatham Airport. Very strange, 12 other planes nearby did not suffer same fate.
Trees & branches down in downtown Chatham park, 3 hours after storm.
What a difference a day makes. Same spot 24 hours later!
Downtown Chatham sidewalk, 3 hours after storm.
24 hours later, same view as above.
Tree on roof top, side street downtown Chatham.
Entrepreneurial spirit in downtown Chatham.

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