Posts tagged ‘weather’

Tropical Storm Lee flooding photos

Yesterday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee blew right through Birmingham transitioning into what our local forecaster, James Spann, called “the perfect storm” as it turned into an extratropical storm when it collided with a low pressure system just north of us. We ended up with almost 8 inches of rain and some pretty amazing winds last night. Some of the gusts were easily in the 40-50mph range given how much the wind was howling. We almost got the kids out of bed twice to take them down to the basement, but in the end decided not to since they were both sick and needed rest. This morning on my commute into Samford, I did a damage survey around the Cahaba Heights / Mountain Brook area all the way down to the Cahaba River. These are the pictures I took on my way into school. Once I got to school, however, I found the campus pretty much deserted. I found a couple people to ask what was going on, and it turns out the campus still didn’t have power (at 10:30AM) so they went ahead and cancelled classes for the rest of the day. Somewhat disappointed because I was looking forward to what I was going to cover today, I turned around to head home and took a few more pictures of the hardest hit area up on top of the mountain in Vestavia Hills where the winds must have been the strongest. Here are all the pictures from my ride into and then back home from work –

8:12AM Teton Rd – lots of pine straw leaving my neighborhood. The aroma of the day was the scent of fresh pine, and the sound of the day was generators humming.

8:16AM Janebo Ln – tree down across half the road.

8:19AM Little Shades Creek – high, but not as high or fast as yesterday during the afternoon deluge.

8:23AM Rocky Ridge Rd – Power crews working to clear lines on Rocky Ridge Rd – one of several reasons why most of Vestavia Hills was without power.

8:37AM Caldwell Mill Rd – Tree across the road in a blind curve on Caldwell Mill Road – glad the wet, slippery pine straw kept me slow heading into the curve.

8:42AM Caldwell Mill Rd – This stretch of Caldwell Mill was hit by the April 27th tornado and now there are two more trees down on the same stretch of road from the remnants of a tropical storm.

8:45AM Caldwell Mill Rd – This is one of my favorite roads to ride in heavy rain – with the 15% gradient, you feel like you are riding up the waterfall alongside the road.

8:54AM US Hwy 280 – A key traffic light was out about a mile or two closer into town from where this picture was taken, and look at the impact on traffic at nearly 9AM! This is a sequence of pictures showing an ambulance trying to make it through the mess.






9:03AM Dolly Ridge Rd – In an effort to bypass the 280 mess, the parallel local road (Cahaba River Rd) was bumper to bumper all the way down to the intersection with Acton Rd near the Colonnade. These two pictures show the mess:

I was heading to the Cahaba River (the lowest point in our part of Birmingham) to see the impact of the flooding, and it was quite dramatic.
Normally there are two channels that bypass the tree that has been growing on a tiny island in the middle of the river just below the dam. Today might mark the end of the tree as it was bending quite heavily from the force of the water. The tire you see floating here is one of the two tires that you will see in some of the following pictures although I missed seeing it go over the edge.

9:13AM Cahaba River Rd – Lots of debris including the really large tree shown getting closer in these three pictures could not escape the backflow of the water going over the dam. In fact, it was incredible the force of the backflow. As I was trying to take pictures, smaller logs would literally jump out of the water and go flying directly into the waterfall! Then they would be forced down below the water and reappear slightly downstream before getting pushed again back towards the waterfall. It was amazing to watch – I probably stood there on the cement overlook for more than 5 minutes watching.


9:19AM Cahaba River Rd – The flow of the water above the dam was deceptively slow considering the force with which it was rushing over the dam.

Check out the video we took with the kids when we were out driving around on Monday. Also, here is a picture of what the spillway looked on Monday during the heavy rains:

MONDAY 5:45PM – Altadena spillway during the heavy rains on Monday

TUESDAY 9:36AM Altadena Valley Golf Course – This spillway was quite a bit lower than yesterday.

9:37AM Altadena Valley Golf Course – The pond that the spillway empties into was dug out, expanded, and deepened quite a bit from the natural pond that was there years ago to accommodate these flood conditions. It has worked quite well because the rest of the golf course was relatively unflooded compared to previous years.

10:16AM Vestavia Falls – Vestavia Falls had also quieted down quiet a bit by the time I rode by there to take this picture.

10:18AM – It appears the higher parts of Vestavia took the brunt of the really strong winds with numerous large oak trees down. This one fell right in the middle of the three-way intersection! The second picture shows the same tree from a different angle. You can see how with all the rain, the saturated soil couldn’t hold down the heavy trees in the strong wind.

11:07AM Smyer Rd – Here is the intersection of Smyer and Shades Crest – no KOM setting on Strava today!

11:08AM Shades Crest Rd – Here is the same tree showing where it knocked out the power lines and fell across the sidewalk

11:10AM Shades Crest Rd – This was the only tree that I saw that fell on a house. It was crazy windy last night around 8PM. Twice we thought of getting the kids up and taking them to the basement even without any tornado sirens going off.

11:18AM – Lots of large trees like these two fell in yards at the top of the mountain.
11:18AM – Lots of large trees like these two fell in yards at the top of the mountain.

11:22AM – Here is a smaller tree that fell in a yard on the descent off the mountain. This picture also shows the flying pig that is positioned in various places in this yard. It is directly across the street from a huge house/huge yard that has four mountain goat statues that are positioned throughout the yard doing different things. Once, they were playing badmitton. Another time, they were hiking with backpacks on the sidewalk. Another time they were pulling an old stage coach. I finally had my camera with me to take a picture of the statues, and they were nowhere to be seen! At least the flying pig was still there.

11:25AM – Vesclub – Here is a tree down halfway across Vesclub coming out of the steep 20% curve at the bottom of one of the “steps” of the Vesclub climb.

11:50AM – Tyrol Rd – This tree was the closest large tree to our house that was down about a half mile from our house. This is just on the other side of Rocky Ridge in the South Cove Dr / Panorama neighborhood. Maybe we should have gone to the basement after all!

September 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm 1 comment

Last tornado pics (Vestavia) plus Athens Twilight prep

We drove over to Athens yesterday for the Twilight crit tonight. Before we left, I biked a different route through Vestavia on my way back from school. So many people there are still without power, and the pic below is one of the reasons why. It does confirm though the general direction I think the storm traveled as these power lines are snapped in a direct line back from Dolly Ridge (see updated map)

Power lines and power poles snapped

Updated damage map

After I got home, we loaded up the car and drove to Athens, Georgia seeing more trees down at several spots along I-20. I rode over to registration and hung out for a bit. The computrainer grid qualifiers had just finished. Then on my way biking back to Winterville where we are staying with friends, I rode through the UGA campus and took a couple pictures of the stadium. All of these pictures are in the gallery below.

April 30, 2011 at 11:01 am Leave a comment

More tornado damage pics

In between my morning and class and my senior presentations this afternoon at the student research showcase, I was able to bike over to Cahaba Heights and Dolly Ridge and get closer to where the tornado went through. I was only able to snap a few pics, though. Again, these pictures represent the damage from a very small, narrow tornado probably an EF0 or EF1. Imagine the damage from a much, much larger tornado with wind speeds in the EF4, EF5 range and that is what Tuscaloosa and Pleasant Grove look like.

Here is an updated map of where I think the tornado went based on going back out there again today:

4/28 updated damage path satellite view. The green X’s are large trees pushed over or broken in half. Many more than what is shown. These are just the ones that stood out to me. The red lines are where I rode my bike on my commute yesterday.

April 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment

Tornado damage


I am writing this post from my parent’s house. We lost power this morning at 5:45AM, and I would estimate that we won’t be getting power back for several days. This morning a tornado passed over our house and touched down about a mile away. Trees and powerlines down everywhere from about a mile north of us all the way up into Cahaba Heights past the Summit. In our neighborhood, a tree fell right through a house (picture above). A large tornado just destroyed part of Tuscaloosa and then made it way just north of Birmingham hitting several communities very hard.

At about 5AM, I woke up hearing something, but I didn’t know what it was. As I lay there groggy I realized it was the tornado sirens. I got up, turned on the TV, and saw that it was for the extreme northern part of the county – not a problem. I went back to sleep, but the sirens went off again at 5:30. This time, when I turned on the TV, the forecaster was telling everybody in Bessemer, Hoover, Riverchase to take shelter immediately. I grabbed the kids and we went down to the basement. I settled them on the floor, and everything was quiet for the next 15 minutes. Then it started to get windy, and we lost power. A few minutes later, the wind stepped up in intensity continuosly just getting harder and harder. I rolled over, laid on top of the kids on the floor and prepared to pull the mattress on top of us. Then, just like that, it was over.

I was still able to bike into work. I saw the tree down through the house in our neighborhood shown at the top of this post. And then through Vestavia I saw a few trees down and lots of debris/branches, but nothing really beyond a large thunderstorm. It wasn’t until I biked home and decided to head over to Dolly Ridge / Cahaba Heights that I realized how close a call we had this morning. The pictures below pretty much tell the story. Keep in mind that this was a relatively small tornado, especially compared to the monster that just hit Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, but still it really did a lot of damage on some roads that I ride all the time.

Update – many photos available on http://www.alabamawx.com/. This will take you to the main weather blog for ABC33/40. If you are viewing this days or weeks after the events of yesterday, then scroll down to the very bottom of the Alabama WX page and click on the blog history calendar and navigate to April 28, 2011.

Another update – after going back again today on my bike commute home, I think the more likely tornado path looks something like this satellite one:

4/28 updated damage path satellite view. The green X’s are large trees pushed over or broken in half. Many more than what is shown. These are just the ones that stood out to me. The red lines are where I rode my bike on my commute yesterday.


Damage map – my commute home and back to school temporarily and then home again

April 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm 5 comments

Don’t mind the snow!

I just saw this new feature on wordpress so I thought it would be fun to enable it — especially since there is a chance of snow here today! It looks like it will be an indoor ride for me with heavy rain expected the rest of the day … massive storm system … check out the radar:

2008 massive storm with snowfall potential

2008 massive storm with snowfall potential

December 11, 2008 at 10:08 am Leave a comment


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