Last night we did our usual Thursday evening thing: minyan with the Usual Suspects, followed by dinner in one of the local restaurants.
We had elected to try a new barbecue place that had recently opened in a spot that is the Elephant Burial Ground of restaurants, at the corner of Woodlawn and Lower Roswell Roads. I don’t know whether it’s the location, the dearth of parking, or the mislaid business plans of the various owners, but no dining spot has ever managed to make a go of it there. This place might do it if the food is good, but since there was insufficient space to accommodate our group of eight, we didn’t stick around long enough to evaluate any of it.
I did notice this prominently posted sign, the first thing you see when you walk in:
“We cook your food when you order it. We recommend calling your order in eight hours in advance if you want the beef brisket.”
It’s a worthy sentiment, but not something I expect to see in a barbecue restaurant. Maybe they’d be better off saying, “We take your meat out of the smoker when you order it. Then we slice it and throw it on a plate with some beans and cole slaw.” Mainly because it takes a reeeeeally looooong time to make barbecue.
Since there was no room at the inn - except for outdoor seating, which was looking like a bad option given the ominously darkening skies - we repaired to Ritter’s, right across the parking lot. In addition to serving good food at reasonable prices, Ritter’s has the advantage of being solidly built, with a back room located well away from windows. This would become an important consideration: the reason those skies were darkening ominously was because (to use the Bakerina’s words) a rip in the space-time continuum was headed straight for us.
Scary looking shit, this.
What was unusual about this line of storms was that it was oriented perpendicular to the usual direction. Weather in these parts typically travels from west to east, and storm fronts tend to be oriented on a rough diagonal from SSW to NNE. This one ran straight east-west, a horizontal slash of red and magenta on the weather maps that gradually slid southward. Yeef!
Adding to our growing anxiety level was the sound of the local tornado warning sirens in the distance... and the National Weather Service’s tornado warning, indicating that some Bad Shit was going down. Ensconced as we were in a well protected back room, we could do nothing but sit tight and wait for our entrées as the lights flickered.
It’s a good thing we were not outside to see this, or I might have crapped a blood clot on the spot:
“Ohhh, crap.” Looking a bit too much like the Crossroads Baker atom bomb test, an EF-1 tornado slices through East Cobb, as seen in this view from the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Roswell Road, looking north... only 7/10 of a mile away from Chez Elisson. (Photo: East Cobb Snobs.)
The storm, when it struck, manifested itself with powerful straight-line winds and a metric buttload of rain - like a cow trying to piss on a flat rock in a wind tunnel. All we could do was to sit there and hope our homes would be intact once we were able to return to them. Later, we would discover that we had been directly in the path of an EF-1 tornado as it skipped and skittered along the ground for several miles.
Most of us, as it happens, dodged this particular Weather-Bullet. There were trees downed everywhere - our neighborhood took quite a few hits, including our neighbors across the street - but our trees and house were intact. Some water was on the kitchen floor, blown under the back door’s weatherstripping by the powerful winds; we sopped that up quickly with a couple of towels. And our garage door openers were out of commission. A few miles to the south, our friends Barry and Malka lost a beautiful weeping willow that had sat majestically in their back yard - but at least it fell away from, not towards, their house.
Right across the street from Chez Elisson... thank Gawd nobody was near this bad boy when it came down.
Several adjacent neighborhoods were not quite as lucky, tornadic winds having toppled trees and smashed houses and power lines. The good news was that an EF-1 tornado does not leave behind it the kind of total destruction seen recently in Oklahoma... but that is scant comfort when there is a massive tree in your bedroom.
An enterprising individual with a chain saw and wood chipper could have made out like a bandit today. Welcome to springtime in the South!
Update: Garage door openers have been restored to their normal functionality - for a “mere” 250 bucks (hah!). A power surge had blown out the electric eyes that prevent the doors from closing when there is an obstruction... obnoxious, but way better than if the opener circuitry itself had been fried. Ahhh, the joys of home ownership...