During the rainstorm Friday, I sat in the warm, cozy newsroom while the Sun’s assistant editor went out in the pouring rain and got some awesome photos.
I still feel kinda bad about this, but I did manage to take some interesting notes on what was going on with the help of the newsroom’s police scanner. Now, do please note that everything on the scanner is tentative–sometimes people report things that turn out to be inaccurate, and law enforcement sorts it all out later for the official report, getting all the facts hammered down.
During Friday’s storm, some of the scanner chatter was impressive, either comical or commiserating. A lot of commiserating, actually. We all know the last thing we need is more water.
Here’s a partial transcript of some (not all) of the scanner chatter from Friday afternoon. I’m putting direct quotes in quotation marks; the rest are paraphrases, and my notes are in color.
3:28 People stalled out in the water will just have to wait until the water subsides to be taken out. The cops were getting quite a few calls about stalled vehicles. People apparently tried to drive through the water on the streets and stalled out.
3:31 “They got the tree off the wire and are contacting the street department.” 1,000 people were without power as a result of the branch, but it was back on in something like 20-30 minutes.
3:33 There’s a report of a truck pulling boys on an inner tube down the street…
No sight of them when law enforcement arrived at the scene. Do I have to explain why this is an unwise thing to do, or are you all too busy building home nuclear reactors and eating sauerkraut jello to do it anyway?
3.35 There’s a report of a tornado touchdown in northeast Stutsman County.
The tornado report actually came from a radio station–someone called the radio station to report a tornado touchdown and the radio station called the National Weather Service. Then the NWS reported it.
The NWS would really prefer to be called first so it can get the official word out–the number in North Dakota is 800 247 0212.
3:39 “See if you can find any damage 10 miles south of Courtenay. We have a report that there was a tornado that touched down.”
Reply: “It’s raining so hard through there you can’t see anything…”
3:40 “Are you saying we’ve got one in the area or that it’s dissipated?” “We don’t have any further information on that.” Who reported it? A brief discussion ensues here. “Reported by the National Weather Service.”
3:42 “I see a waterfall in the ditch?” Visibility was terrible.
4 p.m. “We’ll see if I get struck by lightning.” A brief discussion ensues about whether cars can be hit by lightning and under what circumstances it happens. “… If it can happen, it’ll happen to me.”
4 p.m. “What was this called a million years ago? Lake Agassiz?” Someone paid attention to his earth science class!
4:01 Upon investigation, law enforcement officials can’t find any damage from the alleged tornado touchdown ten miles south of Courtenay. “If there was a touchdown it was in a remote area…”
4:02 “So much for drying up a little bit!”