Thursday, September 16, 2010

Brooklyn storm


We walked out into the beginning of a thunderstorm late this afternoon, to shop for dinner, and as we walked the light turned abruptly, from late afternoon to dark night and then to green-yellow.

For context, if you're not from these parts, the sun is usually shining at 5.29 pm, this time of year.


Lightning overhead and the photographer trotted back home to get his camera.


I turned onto Atlantic Avenue and as I walked the storm raced up behind me.


Within seconds the air was filled with flying water. Soaked from the waist down I abandoned picture-taking and dashed sideways into the laundromat to take cover with other wet citizens. Looking out of the floor to ceiling plate glass windows we saw successive walls of grey water sweeping west to east and small branches and hail scattering onto the sidewalk. I've never seen wind and water so fast.

Then it was over. It might have lasted 30 seconds.

I walked out into steady rain, falling vertically, as it should, and met Vince hooded in his rainjacket. He'd missed it all.


All the shops along the avenue were buzzing about it as we arrived, buying a hot baguette, green lentils and freshly ground Mocha Java from Sahadi's, where Vince stood in the doorway to see the rain...Charlie Sahadi was still excited about seeing a flying trashcan hit a car.


By the time we bought our pistachio mamool at Damascus Bakery and last minute samoosa snack, it was just drizzling from an intense, purple sky.


Finally, under thick cloud and in beautiful light, rainless, we entered Mr Lee's for vegetables for tonight's roasted vegetable dinner. By the time we bought wine, it was a nice evening.

I was too awestruck to videotape it through the laundromat glass, and wish I had. Someone posted a video on YouTube, which shows the storm on the right pretty much where we would have been, I think. A short Times article*contradicts itself about whether it was a tornado or not: A caption says yes, the article [constantly updating as they get more info and images] says nothing confirmed.

Whatever it was, it was spectacular.

Update: 7.53pm - The Times' tornado caption has just been removed.

The Times' City Room has photos from readers, showing that we got off easy.

As for the tornado warnings that the Times reports were issued by the National Weather Service, we were watching two online weather channels until the moment we left the house, and saw no warnings...

All the pots on the roof farm are safe, and no flying fig trees took off from the terrace. If what chased me up Atlantic had been over two blocks there would be no more terrace garden.

From NYTimes, more
photos of the Brooklyn and Queens Storm

9/18/10 - National Weather Service confirms that two tornadoes touched down,  in Brooklyn and Queens.


  1. Oh my! I'm so glad you are both alright.
    when I was driving to the market here in Anacortes WA our local radio station was saying that all around NY city there were tornado warnings..Oh poor Estorbo, I bet he was frightened.

  2. The storm was intense! Like sheets of rain!

  3. I thought of people outside, unawares. I was inside at work with students. We heard the thunder, I looked out and saw the tornado green. I jumped on my internet site where I believe I saw distinct tornadic signatures at different locations, one being just below the Heights and then later in Queens. The site was giving three doppler tornado signatures in the entire metro-nj area. Hello, my name is weather geek.

  4. It's fascinating to see the news spread this fast over the net, our world has changed...

  5. Sounds like a moment from our summer, except the food shopping is so much better. Probably the dinner too.

    This is why my limelight hydrangea has been bowed to the ground, weeping for the last 2 months.

    I shake my fists at the sky and catch my breath simultaneously.

  6. So intense...Reading your coverage of "the storm" made me feel right there!
    I am glad every one is safe and sound.

  7. Oh, good! Glad you're both safe -- you know, when I came back to my South Slope apartment (to a few pots shattered on the sidewalk, but plants in tact), your terrace and roof garden popped into my mind. Guess I feel a little protective of one of my favorite blogs... :D

    And yes -- Park Slope is hard up right now. Think Cobble Hill / Carroll Gardens didn't quite get a direct hit like we did! I took the long walk home after work and saw lots of damage:

  8. Dit lyk super exciting! Wens ek was daar.

  9. When I heard the late news last night I worried a bit about the farm. Glad to hear it just got a good watering. Glad you're ok.

  10. Good morning from Italy.
    Ecco una raccolta fotografica e video della tempesta di New York in un sito di Meteorologia Italiano:

  11. Went to your blog right away after hearing about the possible tornadoes...was very relieved to see that you're all o.k. and that the terrace and roof farms weren't damaged. I've now watched a bunch of YouTube videos of the storm and some of them are verrrry intense!


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