June 22nd, 2009


Second Once-In-A-Century Event In A Row

Friday's Adventures

Storms were forecast for Friday morning, but as one TV station said the rains would come later than expected, another said earlier. Earlier was right. About 3am there was a BRILLIANT flash of lightning just as I looked out the window. Lights flickered a couple of times but we didn't lose power. Such wasn't the case in Kalamazoo, where the traffic lights were dark at Drake and West Main -- major intersection, no cops. Yet everyone behaved themselves. Such was not the story in the next two lights, where most of the drivers seemed to forget that a dead traffic light is to be legally treated as a four-way stop. Geesh.

Odd that apartment complexes without power look dead in daylight. Can't explain it. Campus had power.

Those traffic lights were still out after 5pm, though people followed the rules at the smaller dead lights and they had two cops directing rush hour traffic at Drake and West Main. Evening rains mostly held off until I pulled into the garage at home.

Into The Night

Friday night we watched WOOD-TV8 go into "Storm Team 8" mode as a series of heavy volume thunderstorms trained across a swath of West Michigan just south of us, from Holland and east. 5-8 inches of rain, 60-70mph gusts, and the storms hitting the same places over and over again. It was described as a once-in-a-century storm, but of course June 2008 hit Holland MI hard, too, and in a very similar way. Yeah, it was the second year in a row that kayaks paddled in downtown Holland.

Leading Into Saturday

Of course we had to make a run from West Michigan to Chicago and back again on Saturday. Blue skies don't fool me. Given the flooding and reported road closures last night, I figured there was no point in taking US-31 through Holland to I-196. Holland is just too low and too prone to flooding -- who knew the settlers took their namesake so seriously? Likewise I didn't want to take 68th Avenue to 72nd to Chicago Drive to Byron Road, because it meant driving through the low-lying black dirt onion fields. Figured the roads would be closed.

So we drove all the way east into Standale and took Wilson down to I-196. From the freeway we saw numerous farmer's fields flooded with brown water. US-31 northbound into Holland was closed off by the police, vindicating my decisions. And Holy Crap! Batman, taking I-196 over the Kalamazoo River was one giant high brown lake. Never seen the water that high there before.

Coming home? No problems on US-31 back through Holland and home at 2am.

A Bashed Bash

Over at the Ionia Fairgrounds, the 17th annual B93 Bash had to break up on Saturday as the Grand River came flooding up. They tried pouring gravel on the access road, but they lost the South Parking lot and hundreds of cars had to be abandoned to the flooding. They won't get in there until Wednesday to see the damage level. Red Cross housed a bunch of people in a local school. Not a good weekend to be a country music fan.

Wonder About The Morning

Sunday night the weather people were explaining that three tornadoes hit West Michigan during the storm, one in Allegan County and two in Kalamazoo County. We'll see how messy the driving is tomorrow -- and whether they've got those lights running again. (grin)

But it's all only once in a century.

Dr. Phil