Nature's Fury Caught on Film

May 2, 2008 New Albany, MS
May 2, 2008 New Albany, MS

What an amazing experience!

As frightening as it is to realize the dangers and destruction that comes in the path of a tornado, I have to admit that it was truly fascinating to watch the formation of this tornado yesterday from my back yard from its beginning through its path of destruction through our town May 2, 2008.

I am as much in awe of the miracle of no fatalities in our area than the amazing site of watching this tornado actually form. Some in Arkansas weren't so fortunate. During the path of storms that tore across the Mississippi River, there were 8 fatalities at last count in the state of Arkansas. It was a long night for us and many of our neighboring states.

Along with this tornado that we caught on film, we were awakened between 1:00 and 1:30 a.m. with a second one, which brought with it flash floods and hail. We lost power a couple of times through this and didn't have internet for most of the day after. However, when I look at what so many others around us lost, I feel blessed that we were only inconvenienced in such a small way.

Dark Clouds Forming

The picture to the right was early in the evening before the formation of the tornado. To look at this, it would appear as any other storm cloud. However, it would only be a matter of minutes before the clouds would take on a life of their own.

Rotation

In this picture, you begin to see what appears to be tiny tails of clouds dropping down from the large, dark cloud above it. These tails would drop a short ways, then go back into the clouds, then drop a little further each time for several minutes.

Tails Collide

Here you can see how these tails came together to form the beginning of the funnel cloud. At this point, the tornado is just above the trees as it keeps forming.

Atmosphere Changing

This is the same cloud just a few seconds later. Notice the difference in the color of the atmosphere. It is getting a bit lighter at this point. The next few seconds were astounding, to say the least!

Dropping Down

Notice that as it gets closer to the ground, it is still becoming a bit lighter outside. Almost a blue haze in this shot.

On the Ground

You can see in this photo how the lowest part of the tornado is now behind the trees on the ground. The area that it touched down was about two miles past the Wal Mart Distribution Center where my husband is dispatched from. The destruction in this area is beyond description of mere words. The slide show at the end shows the damage left behind.

Amazing Change

Here it is plain to see the amazing change in the color of the sky just before it got to our area. It is almost as if it has a purple/blue haze. For the next few seconds it becomes a darker and darker shade of purple haze.

Change Darkens

As you can see, within a few seconds, the purple haze begins to deepen. I have been in a few tornados before but have never witnessed such a beautiful color in the sky before. Normally, from what I have witnessed, the color is more of a yellowish grey, similar to mud. This was an amazing sight to see.

Losing the Purple

In this photo, the purple begins to fade and what we saw over the next few seconds was fascinating, to say the least. We were in total shock over the sudden, drastic change to follow.

The Transformation

As you can see, within seconds, the sky went from a beautiful purple haze into a frightening, dark color. The time frame was simply amazing!

The ascention begins

Here you can see that the darkness is beginning to surround us but the grass and other objects seem to be magnified against the blackness at this point.

Daytime or Night?

As you can see, it only took seconds to become as dark as midnight. However, this was about 2 hours before sundown should have occured.

On the Move

The tornado followed straight along highway 30 through New Albany, leaving splintered trees and debris behind where homes and other buildings once stood. Look between the trees.

Lifting

After what seemed like forever but was only a few minutes, the tornado began to lift back into the cloud to await its next target a few miles away. This particular tornado was just one of several that we watched that day, although this one was the only one to touch down at that time. We were, however, awoken between 1:00 and 1:30 a.m. by another one that hit the downtown neighborhoods and left even more destruction.

The Aftermath

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Trees scattered across a field. Notice there is no hole beneath the roots?Large tree uprooted along the edge of the highwayTrees surround this house and shed on Hwy 30What is left of a gas stationThe only thing left of this house was a small section of the roof and 4 walls.Twisted power linesDebris surrounds a houseThese people were fortunate to have a houseThis debris is from what used to be a feed mill about a mile away from this house.More trees and debrisClose up of debris from feed millHuge trees uprootedRecliner along the road from who knows whereFalling power linesRepairing the damageThis tree was snapped at the groundDamage to brand new homePatio fence gone from new homeVery close callOnly a shell is leftTree along the side of the houseAnother side viewUnidentifiable now, this is the remainder of a feed millNot sure what this building used to beAnother close call
Trees scattered across a field. Notice there is no hole beneath the roots?
Trees scattered across a field. Notice there is no hole beneath the roots?
Large tree uprooted along the edge of the highway
Large tree uprooted along the edge of the highway
Trees surround this house and shed on Hwy 30
Trees surround this house and shed on Hwy 30
What is left of a gas station
What is left of a gas station
The only thing left of this house was a small section of the roof and 4 walls.
The only thing left of this house was a small section of the roof and 4 walls.
Twisted power lines
Twisted power lines
Debris surrounds a house
Debris surrounds a house
These people were fortunate to have a house
These people were fortunate to have a house
This debris is from what used to be a feed mill about a mile away from this house.
This debris is from what used to be a feed mill about a mile away from this house.
More trees and debris
More trees and debris
Close up of debris from feed mill
Close up of debris from feed mill
Huge trees uprooted
Huge trees uprooted
Recliner along the road from who knows where
Recliner along the road from who knows where
Falling power lines
Falling power lines
Repairing the damage
Repairing the damage
This tree was snapped at the ground
This tree was snapped at the ground
Damage to brand new home
Damage to brand new home
Patio fence gone from new home
Patio fence gone from new home
Very close call
Very close call
Only a shell is left
Only a shell is left
Tree along the side of the house
Tree along the side of the house
Another side view
Another side view
Unidentifiable now, this is the remainder of a feed mill
Unidentifiable now, this is the remainder of a feed mill
Not sure what this building used to be
Not sure what this building used to be
Another close call
Another close call

The Destruction

The next morning brought beautiful blue skies that would normally be an enjoyable spring day. For many, it brought a day of saddness, loss and the realization of having to start their lives over.

While the pictures you see are of major destruction, much of the damage is not captured here. Out of respect for the victims, we did not take pictures of some of the worst damaged homes because many were there trying to salvage what they could of their lives. We chose not to capture that on film.

There were many more areas that were blocked off to the public that we could not access in the heavier hit areas. These pictures are just a small portion of the destruction left behind. But we have witnessed the strength of this community and will do what we can to help them rebuild and recover.

While so many have become a victim of nature's fury, they are, at the same time, grateful for the miracle of life. Many were trapped inside homes and buildings that are grateful to be unharmed considering the aftermath they are witnessing. Our thoughts and prayers will be with all who suffered loss in our community as well as in other states.

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Comments 26 comments

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Really game of you being out there taking those photos. I cannot understand (excuse my ignorance) But why are houses not built into the ground to avoid this catastrophic damage to all the homes.

They live underground in Cooperpeedy (australia) so why cannot they do the same over there in america. It would save so much destruction and lives. I know and understand that it would cause drainage and water problems but surely in this modern day and age that could be worked out. Great hub thanks for that


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Eileen,

That is one thing that I told Danny I wanted when I build a house. Don't want the whole thing underground but want a split level with a large basement equipped with a generator and stocked with enough supplies for at least a week in case we are ever trapped. I don't think I could live underground all the time. I am so clostraphobic that I wouldn't be able to take it forever. But it would be a great idea if we could work out all the bugs in the plan PLUS figure out a way to have lots of sunshine. If I don't get sunshine in my windows for a few days, I'll start getting depressed. Need my light! LOL. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

Bonnie


funride profile image

funride 8 years ago from Portugal

I´m glad it has not affected you directly and I thank you for showing us those incredible pictures of the entire event. It´s amazing to see how fragile we and our things are, fortunately over here we don´t have those kind of Nature´s fury (yet :/) but I imagine the destruction would be similar eventhough we built our houses with reinforced concrete and bricks. Without thinking about the danger I believe a tornado it´s a beautiful sight just like almost every Nature´s event (volcanos and thunderstorms for example).


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago

Hi Bonnie

So scary! Tornadoes and earthquakes, even hurricanes, all terrify me. Once on a cross country drive, stayed overnight in Pasadena TX, a tornado came through, skipped where we were and hit the next town, killing 9 people. I was hiding under a mattress lol,,,a lot of good that would have done.

There were a lot of times my hubby had wanted us to move, and I refused every time. Wouldn't move west because of fire/floods/earthquakes, not midwest because of tornadoes, not south because of hurricanes,,,had an answer for em all. Like I think by staying in NJ I am safe from all that. We do get hurricanes, and more recently there have been tornadoes, generally north or south of where I am, but that doesn't make me sleep any more soundly lol.

Amazing pictures, don't know how you could stand there and watch! Not knowing if the tornado is going right, left, or what. Often wish I could have an underground shelter. I remember they were pretty common when I was a youngster, even though we never had one ourselves.

And, if I were you, after witnessing that first hand, I'd be packed and ready to move the next day. But, in reality, it really doesn't matter where you are, if it's your time, you'll go however it was meant to be. (Shh,,I like to think I'm invincible and can control mother nature, don't tell anyone :))

Thanks for sharing,

Patty


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Funride,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I certainly agree that it really is a beautiful sight to see. As for the reinforced concrete and bricks, they are no match to these powerful winds. The feed mill that was ripped to shreds was built from reinforced steel as many of the large buildings today. But when nature shows its fury, there is no match to it I am glad you don't have these types of catastrophies in your area to deal with. I guess it is all about what you are willing to chance to live in a certain area, much like people who live on the coastlines and face hurricanes. I guess we all have our own disasters to live through.

Bonnie


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Patty,

Thanks for stopping by. I believe also that if it is your time to go, it won't matter where you are. But you can rest assured that we were ready to "run for the hills" if necessary LOL. At the point of these pictures, it was about 5 miles from us so we mostly got some wind from it until the one in early morning hours. Then we got the floods and hail.

Bonnie


donnaleemason profile image

donnaleemason 8 years ago from North Dakota, USA

Thank God none of you were hurt. They were incredible pictures Bonnie. It must be terribly sad for those that lost all and of course for the families in Arkansas that lost loved ones. Excellent descriptions for your photos.

Donna


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Nature's fury indeed! --wonderful pix and great descriptions, Bonnie. I remember once when I was visiting my grandparents in Kansas, a tornado came through the edge of town and the sky turned all kinds of colors. Later we drove out to see the damage and it was amazing --you could see the path of the tornado. One side of the street was destroyed and the other was untouched....a narrow but devistating path. Brave of you to photograph it all and glad you and yours were not in the direct path of that bad boy. Crazy weather we are having these days eh?


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Donna,

Yes, this was very sad yet the fact that no lives were lost here is somethig to be grateful for, indeed. Thanks so much for stopping by and you can expect your hub request to be answered within the next few days!

Bonnie


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Robie,

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. You are so right. It seems the weather is getting more and more unpredictable!

Bonnie


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

What amazing photos, Bonnie. I'm not nearly as brave as you. I don't care if that twister was 5 or 10 miles away, I would have been in my hidey-hole.

My cousin and her husband used to live in Illinois. Their house had a storm cellar. It was well provisioned with canned goods, bottled water, batteries and flash lights, blankets, all neatly arranged on shelves. In the middle of the little room stood a small table and two chairs. On the top of the table was a candle and matches. I'll never forget the look and dank smell of that windowless, dark room. Knowing what its only purpose was, was terrifying to me. My cousin and her husband had to run to the cellar many times during their years in that house, but fortunately, they never suffered a direct hit.

Thanks so much for sharing the pictures and the reports of the event. I am so glad you and yours are safe.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Sally,

Thanks so much for stopping by. I agree that the cellar is a dank, depressing place. That's why I would like to have one large enough to use it for a game room during other times. Then, it isn't so depressing PLUS you'd have something to keep you busy during bad weather! LOL

Bonnie


donnaleemason profile image

donnaleemason 8 years ago from North Dakota, USA

No rush Bonnie, I can see that you could be otherwise occupied and the next b'day is not until August.


C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

The power of Mother Nature is the ALL POWERFUL. It is crazy how exciting such a storm can be. Seems I have spent a good deal of my life in what is known as "tornado alley". I drove through one storm in Texas and watched entire buildings flying, the car I was in looked like it had been beaten with a hundred hammers, funny thing was the excitement of it. I love your sky photos. Good you are all okay.


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

Wow, Bonnie! Amazing pictures - thank you for sharing (and explaining). We don't get many tornados up here in the north and when we do they are not too powerful. You are a brave lady! :)


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Hi, Amy Jane!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You are fortunate not to have to deal with the aftermath of these storms very often. I guess no matter where you live, there are advantages and disadvantages for each place. My youngest daughter (26) was taking the pictures as I showed her the different phases. I had seen several in my lifetime but it was her first. She posted the pictures on her MySpace and got pretty much the same response that I am with the hub. Many people have never witnessed the actual formation and it is a very fascinating thing to watch. You can bet if it had been too close, we would have been in our "safety room" with the cockatiel! LOL

Bonnie


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

Amazing photos! As a Oklahoma native, have seen way more than my share of tornadoes, but your photos fascinating! BRAVE! Since OK is 'tornado alley' we have great meteorologists and more weather equipment than almost any other state! So, we're basically lucky....lots of tornadoes, hardly any fatalities. BEST to you and your neighbors as they recover.


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 8 years ago from Midwest USA

Amazing photos. Living in tornado alley is an experience itself. Here in the KC greater metro we have about 100 tornadoes a year. Most do little damage but the storm system you photographed here tore through northern and southern KC destroying numerous homes and businesses. One customer of mine builds homes in a development that had three homes leveled and six more damaged. Never underestimate the power of these storms. They may not last long but with winds exceeding 150 mph they pack a serious punch.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Rob,

Thanks for stopping by and my prayers are with all that have been affected by these storms. You are so right in that people often underestimate the power of them simply because they can be gon in seconds. It is in those few seconds that many lives are destroyed or lost.

Bonnie


tjmum profile image

tjmum 8 years ago from Isle of Wight

I've never seen anything like it. The only bad weather we've ever suffered is the Hurricane of '87 (shows how often we have weather like that). Fantastic footage, very brave of you.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Tj,

Thanks so much for stopping by. You are very fortunate not to have this type of weather. After this tornado, we had another one 20 miles away Thursday morning where several family members live and we are under watches here again tonight. I hope it will stay calm so I can go visit Mama for Mother's Day tomorrow :(

Bonnie


RainbowRecognizer profile image

RainbowRecognizer 8 years ago from Midwest

Amazing photos and description, Bonnie - just awesome - thank you!


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much for stopping by, Rainbow! We had another bad night last night but have survived. So far, we know of 5 cities across north MS where family live that were hit last night with at least 1 tornado. We don't know about damage as yet but know family is safe so that's all that matters. It seems to be a bad year for tornados already here.

Bonnie


Jean Ahmann profile image

Jean Ahmann 8 years ago from DeLand, FL

Excellant photos. You did a wonderful job of describing the whole thing. Just hope everyone was prepared.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Hi, Jean!

Thanks for reading and commenting! Fortunately, there were no injuries in this so apparently they did an excellent job of preparing. In this area, I guess we are just used to dealing with it on a regular basis. I will be editing this hub to include a link to your hub with tips for preparing, if you don't mind.

Bonnie


Charles 7 years ago

The pile of rubble in your group of pictures that is labeled "Not sure what this building used to be" was actually one of the oldest structures in Union County, the Interprise Community Cotton Gin. I am a naitive of New Albany, have some pictures of the same tornado "jumping" over my parents house. That was a bad day for alot people. Thank you for doing such a good job laying out these pictures!

Charles

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