Was that a tornado or just a funnel cloud?

We were camping at a camp site VERY close to home this weekend. The weather was awesome and we did some tubing and fishing on the South Branch of the Raritan river. While fishing I saw an osprey hunting along the river and later we saw it while tubing down the river. The river was littered with Waxwings hunting for bugs and they were constantly zooming over my head - awesome!

We had booked our campsite until Monday and the plan of action was for us to pack up on Monday afternoon. Saturday night we were hit with some rain and it appears that a few of the seams on our new tent are leaking. Luckily we didn’t have a lot of water in the tent but we did have to move the kids around a little to avoid water damage – can kids rust? Sunday we put tarps over the two windows on each side of the tent hoping to stop the water leaking in from the windows. We knew that there was a thunderstorm predicted for Sunday night, so we decided to jump in the car and go out to a local diner for dinner – I know that’s cheating but we have small kids. That’s my excuse and I’ll stick to it.

We were just getting ready to leave when the storm hit. The wind was whipping through the trees and then it started raining. By the time I got both kids into the van I was soaked. As I jumped in the car it started hailing! I’m used to hail as we used to get it all the time in Johannesburg, but it’s been over 10 years since I saw hail like THIS! We sat in the car getting pelted with massive hail and wondering whether this was the end of the world. After the hail cleared we left the site and drove through the neighborhood. The roads were littered with downed trees and people were trying to clear the roads. We managed to get home and luckily we were pretty much spared the wrath of the storm. My neighbor across the road wasn’t as lucky as he had maple and pine branches all over the place. Miraculously none of the huge branches landed on his house. My neighbor next to me had the top of one of one of this trees knocked clean off. The top of the tree that was severed was at least 16 feet tall – wow. After helping to clean the roads and driveways I headed to the back of my property to see what was down.

My dead pine tree lost a pretty major branch and I was surprised to see that the Mockingbird nest survived the storm. The Mockingbird has moved into my yard after losing a clutch of eggs in my neighbor’s small Japanese maple tree. I have yet to take pictures of the new nest and I will check up on it this week. My veggie garden looks a little beaten up but I’m hoping that the plants will recover. Our gazebo cover was ripped to shreds but it wasn’t going to make it through the season any way.

Last night after putting the monkeys to bed and leaving them in the care of their grandmother, we headed back to our campsite to pack up the tent and its contents. Of course it ended up raining and our tent is currently on my lawn drying out. All in all we were very lucky compared to many of the resident in Hunterdon county. Here are some links to news stories related to the storm:

Freak storm cuts swath across Hunterdon County with hail, high winds, destruction
Severe storms rip through north and central New Jersey
Funnel cloud reported in Hunterdon County


Patrick Belardo said...

Wow! I didn't know about this at all. Glad everything is ok with you and your fam.

Owlman said...

Hi Patrick,

Yeah, we're fine. Sitting in the car with massive trees around you while a storm is blowing through is pretty scary stuff but it beats a tent! I cut the pine tree branches up this morning which was HOT work. All in all we were VERY lucky considering the power of the storm. Several MASSIVE trees went down the storm and we have that nice river birch RIGHT next to the house. Luckily we were spared any major damage and even the Mockingbirds seem to have made it through the storm with their nest intact. All is well!

Thanks for stopping in.

dAwN said...

Yikes..Did the hail damage your car?
Some weird weather happening..

Owlman said...

dAwN, I'm not sure how but for some reason I cars managed to withstand the hail. We had branches all around us but all of them missed our cars - LUCKY!

VERY strange weather around. I just wonder what winter will bring...

Thanks for popping in, much appreciated.

Jochen said...

Wow, Owlman, scary stuff.

I always enjoy being "surprised" out in the open by a heavy thunder storm as long as I can find a decent shelter and watch all hell breaking lose while staying safe and dry. This is part the outdoors life I enjoy so much.
THAT storm however was clearly too much and I am very glad to read all is well, even the mockingbirds.