Things which are small are my favorite. I have a collector tendency and if I didn’t watch it my home would be full of mini everything. I would also be in danger (or in luck?) of constantly adding kittens to the family.
Something which was micro which was NOT my favorite was experience the microburst storm last August which either caused damage to the roof or further damaged an already broken section. The storm was gearing up before we went to bed, around 10pm, but was strong enough sometime around 1am to wake us up.
A Rude Awakening
I woke up first to the flashing lights coming in through the bedroom windows, even though the shades were down. The wind was blowing at what I call “medium creaking” which means because we’re so high up, each gust made a medium noise against the wall and the roof tiles. The rain was also light, and the thunder was still pretty quiet.
Within ten minutes, it completely changed.
Suddenly, one gust hit the wall so hard we felt the building shake. This was also the last time we saw TheCats for awhile. The only other time I have seen them react to something external like that was when the building roof/wall across from mine in VA fell down and shook the ground like an earthquake. So watching them exit the room in blurs was alarming.
At this point the lightning is non stop. The hills are completely lit up and individual building outlines are totally visible like in the day time. The thunder is intense but we’re having a hard time hearing it because of the rain. The rain sounded like being underneath Multnomah Falls or behind Niagara Falls. Which sounds like an exaggeration, but let me assure you this was nothing compared to what was coming in the next 20 minutes.
Since this was July 31 / August 1, the windows are open or cracked around the clock. We quickly scrambled on clothes and started down the long hall to close them all up. Upon flicking on the lights in the bathroom, we discovered we now had our very own, personal, private Indoor Tropical Rainforest Experience Adventure! Rain wasn’t just dripping in, lovely little waterfalls were forming in the corners and along the rafters near the windows.
While Zach took care of that mess, I continued down the hall to the entryway where we have 8 skylights across the roof, including two large ones over the loft. I didn’t have to walk far before I heard the distinct pattering of water hitting tile floor in a continuous and heavy stream. The storm is also much louder in this room for some reason, until I look up and realize the skylights which have been cracked open are now flung wide open, completely vertical.
I race up the stairs to the loft (finding TheCats cowered in a corner, terrible place to seek shelter) to start pulling the windows closed. What’s scary is because they’re so high up, I have to lean way out over our loft railing to get to them, plus the lightning is intense, the wind is making a vortex in the hall, and the rain is of course soaking everything. I get the first one closed and I can finally hear Z, actually yelling from down the hall but to me it sounds like a normal level of conversation. He is rightfully concerned I’m placing myself as the perfect lightning beacon, as there is a lightning rod right above these windows and I am sticking my hand out to get to the handle. At that moment, the windows suddenly slam shut, not just there but also in the living room (where two others have blown open from cracks).
But Germany doesn’t have severe weather, this is clearly just a bad storm. I open up the weather app on my phone and see “TORNADO WARNING WIESBADEN SURROUNDING AREA SEEK SHELTER” which, is just not something anyone wants to see, especially not the middle of the night, especially not when you live high up with no elevator. Z and I met in the middle of the hall and tried to assess what to do. Do we try to bundle up TheCats and head down to the basement? Is this a false alarm? How dangerous is this really?
In reality, the Derecho was the most major storm I have been in (besides hurricanes, which while dangerous, meant mostly high winds and flooding) but this was something else. Perhaps if we weren’t in such a high house, it wouldn’t have seemed so severe. But the wind strength was shaking the house, we could barely hear each other talk, I was honestly starting to get pretty scared. I was feeling like the situation was now no longer in my control zone and it was now time to shift into flight instead of fight mode.
We headed back to the bedroom to quickly get more clothes and head downstairs. As I’m pulling on a sweatshirt (the temperature had dropped remarkably quickly), the wind calmed. It didn’t cease by any means, but conversation could be had at more normal levels. The rain also started to let up and the thunder sounded quieter. We looked at each other and I said “well maybe we rode it out?” when the first alarms began to sound.
It was an interesting experience, hearing first Wiesbaden’s, then the outlying villages’, alarms begin to sound in a chain-like manner. I was ready to run down the stairs at this point but Z noticed the storm sounds were actually rapidly fading. The alarms then were calling the volunteer fire departments to action and sounding an all-clear, probably.
By 3am there was only a light rain left and no need to evacuate. Looking back though, the signs were probably there that we should have gone down to the basement, especially when the building was swaying.
The storm was major and caused destruction along a wide path.
In the end, we were fine and it was our first really challenging moment when events were seriously out of our control, and we could have been hurt or had property damage, but we stayed calm and controlled with each other.
TheCats, by the way, now get their own evacuation plan after that night. I have moved their carriers to an easier to reach area and now I know where to look for them first.