Random Read

Blowdown {excerpt}

On a single day, 11 days before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, a record of 27 tornadoes formed in Wisconsin. One touched down on our property. We weren’t there to see it, but according to neighbors, a small funnel cloud appeared first, high above the ridgetop. Then a huge, dark funnel fell from the smaller one and hit the ground. It razored the top of our southernmost hill, descended a narrow swale, and continued southeast—over the floodplain, across the river, and to the neighbors’ properties. It decimated a yurt we’d erected in the meadow, overturned a neighbor’s mobile home, and on our property alone uprooted 40 acres of maple, oak, walnut, cherry, aspen, hickory, and basswood, including two homestead oaks four feet in diameter, trees that had survived prairie fires and been spared by farmers for their islands of shade. It continued east for 20 miles, tearing up hills, valleys, and a nearby village.