Archive for the ‘South Bend, Michiana & Indiana’ Category

ND officials say there was no tornado

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Despite some reports suggesting a small tornado was responsible for the damage on the Notre Dame campus yesterday, the official line from the university is that the culprit was simply “high, straight-line winds.” From the ND press release:

There is no evidence that a tornado touched down on University property, according to Notre Dame officials who were on campus when the storm hit.

(Hat tip: Domer Connect.) As I said yesterday, I thought it was straight-line winds based on the nature of the damage — all the trees seemed to fall in the same direction, whereas in a tornado, you would expect to see them fall in all different directions. On the other hand, it’s unusual that the damage was confined to such a narrow area, basically in a straight line from the Grotto to Hesburgh Library, with the rest of campus virtually unaffected. Also, it’s surprising to me that a spire from the Basillica could be toppled by mere straight-line winds; a funnel cloud knocking a piece of debris into it at high speed would make more sense. But in light of the nature of the damage that I saw, I still think the straight-line-wind explanation is probably correct.

I’m still working on getting my photos and videos online (sorry for the delay, but it’s hard to find free time between all the 3L Week social activities — for example, I’ll be leaving in about an hour for the “booze cruise” on Lake Michigan), but for now, here are some photos by another student… and ND Nation also has pictures. And here’s some video taken by an ND Nation poster:

Here’s another video… and here are a couple videos of the storm damage set to music.

Some other blogs covering this: bird_style, Rakes of Mallow, Irish Round Table, Lani, Heather, The Kloska Family Blog, City of Steeples and A Texan in Indiana. Also, more ND Nation threads can be found here, here, here and here. And here’s a USA Today article about the damage.

Basilica damage: initial photos

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

I have many more photos of today’s storm to share, but the 3L Dinner just ended, and now people are heading out to the Backer to celebrate… so I don’t have much time. To tide you over, here’s a before & after shot of the destroyed spire:

The pictures are taken from slightly different angles, but you can clearly see that the large spire at left is… GONE! What happened to it? Well…

Pretty amazing. I don’t know how strong the winds were, but they must have been pretty impressive to cause that. (I do believe they were purely straight-line winds, though, blowing west to east. No tornado here.)

Like I said, I’ll post more later (i.e., tomorrow), but now I’m off to the Backer!

P.S. Here are a couple more quick storm-damage photos:

Here’s the WSBT article.


Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Tornado sirens are going off outside. Details here. Radar here.

A twister has been spotted in LaPorte. I think it will go north of the Notre Dame area, but it might be a good idea to take shelter in a basement or interior room, just in case.

UPDATE, 4:57 PM: The tornado sirens seem to have stopped. So far as I know, however, the warning is still in effect.

UPDATE, 5:35 PM: The tornado warning has expired, and the danger appears to be past. But not before a gust front produced damage from strong straight-line winds — a power line is down in the middle of South Bend Avenue, large branches, storefront signs, and at least one tree is down, etc. Mobile updates coming shortly; full-size photos later.

Something beautiful

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Good luck on your Friday and Saturday exams, everybody. It’s almost over!

I’m signing off the blog for the night. I might publish a cell-phone post in the morning, but otherwise, the next time you hear from me, I’ll be done with law school. :)

This is a test, this is only a test

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

The fake nuke detonation in Indianapolis will take place on Thursday, starting an eight-day preparedness drill. Residents can follow the drill’s progress here.

Dunes and Domers

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Okay, the title is a bit of a stretch, but the point is to blog some pretty pictures from Becky’s and my trip to Warren Dunes State Park this evening, and also some more pretty pictures of Notre Dame’s campus in springtime. First things first, the Dunes:

Also, check out the 360-degree panorama! (Again, thanks, Calico!)

Full gallery here.

As for the ND pics… I already showed you this one, but there are lots more. In fact, my newly created Spring at Notre Dame gallery goes all the way back to April 1. Today’s photos start on Page 2 of the gallery. A couple of highlights:

Again, the full gallery starts here and continues here. Enjoy!

Federal government to nuke Indiana

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Indianapolis, specifically. It’s only a simulation, of course, but I couldn’t resist the sensational headline. :) Excerpt:

A hurricane roars ashore in Rhode Island. A nuclear device goes off in the Midwest. And terrorists begin wreaking havoc in Alaska. What do you do?

The Pentagon and other US and Canadian agencies plan to answer that question in a major exercise called Ardent Sentry-Northern Edge 07 that began Monday and will play out over the next 18 days, involving thousands of US troops and state and local officials.

The US Northern Command said it is “the largest and most complex exercise” it has undertaken, combining natural and man-made disasters to test preparedness plans on a national level.

“The intent obviously is to stress the system,” said Mike Kucharak, a spokesman for the Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The peak of the exercise will come next week when a hurricane bears into Rhode Island under one scenario, and an improvised nuclear device is detonated in Indiana in another.

Interspersed with those crises will be simulated terrorist actions in Alaska, some of which will take place at sea while others will involve aircraft.

That will allow participants to explore what might happen if terrorists try to take advantage of catastrophic events, Kucharak said. “How would that stress the system?”

Yes, but why would anyone attack Alaska or Indiana?

More here.

[Originally posted at 1:53 AM, but bumped up because I wanted this headline on top of my homepage for a while. :) -ed.]

P.S. The current juxtaposition of this post with the top line of my “upcoming events” sidebar suggests an obvious answer to the question of how to handle multiple simultaneous catastrophic events: call Spider-Man! He’ll set things right.

Michiana rocked by possible tornado, deadly car crash

Friday, April 27th, 2007

As noted in comments by Mike Marchand, and also by 1LG on her blog, there was an apparent tornado in Hesston, Indiana yesterday, a small town 20-25 miles WNW of South Bend. I say “apparent tornado” because the National Weather Service hasn’t yet confirmed that it actually touched down, but there was definitely a funnel cloud, and it definitely at least got close to the ground, considering it flipped over a police car as the officer inside tracked the storm:

LaPorte County sheriff’s Detective Shayna Mireles, 32, was tracking a tornado about 4 p.m. Thursday when the tornado lifted her squad car and hurled the auto over a fence.

Mireles was taken to LaPorte Hospital, where her injuries were described as not life-threatening.

Mireles was on Fail Road, near County Road 700 North, according to detective Sgt. Roger Bernard, her supervisor. …

She was tracking the tornado when the tornado lifted up her car and tossed it over a fence into a field, he said.

Bernard said there were no tire tracks on the other side of the fence, indicating that the car was airborne.

The car landed on its top, pinning Mireles inside. Emergency crews worked 15 to 20 minutes to extract her from the car.

The officer’s daughter, Betsi Mireles, said her mother suffered cuts and bruises. “She’s lucky she had her seat belt on,” Betsi said. …

The tornado caused many downed trees and power lines long Fail Road, north of U.S. 20.

The storm also caused a power outage in areas of South Bend, including WSBT’s studios, forcing them to broadcast from outdoors using a satellite truck to get the feed out. Heh.

On a more somber note, the wet roads may have contributed to an awful crash on the 90:

A stretch of the Indiana Toll Road where at least 12 people had died since August 2005 claimed eight more lives Thursday when a semitrailer barreled through stopped traffic, crushing several vehicles in a chain-reaction crash.

State police said the driver of the semi never slowed until he struck the vehicles, which had stopped because of a separate crash near a construction site. Two of the cars were crushed beyond recognition – a van carrying six people, five of whom died, and a Jeep Cherokee in which two were killed. The driver of a pickup truck that was knocked off the road also died.

“At this point, we don’t know the reason. He did not slow down,” state police Sgt. Trent Smith said. “It’s one of the worst accidents that we’ve had up here.”

Indiana prison riot!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

A “full-scale riot” broke out at a prison in New Castle, Indiana (well southeast of South Bend, closer to Indianapolis) this afternoon, injuring two prison employees and causing Drudge to top his homepage with the headline “‘FULL-SCALE RIOT’ IN INDIANA PRISON…”

UPDATE: Video here:

Memorial mass for Thomas Miller today

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Thomas J. Miller, the Notre Dame Law School custodian who went missing in November and was found dead in March, will be honored in a memorial mass today at 5:00 PM in the NDLS lounge. Father Coughlin will celebrate the mass.

According to comments on my earlier post about Mr. Miller’s death, there was some resentment among the custodial staff about the way this tragedy was handled by the university, so it’s good that they’re doing this, though I’m not sure it will totally mend all those fences. [CORRECTION: Reportedly, the mass was arranged by SBA, not the administration. Hmm.] That said, the problem goes beyond just Notre Dame. As Sergio commented shortly after Mr. Miller’s body was found:

It turns out that the search crews were looking for the body of a South Bend woman that went missing while walking her dog a few months ago, and they just happened to stumble across Mr. Miller’s body. On the 6pm news, the fact that it wasn’t the woman’s body seemed like something of a disappointment, and very little was said about Mr. Miller, his background, or his family, and I don’t think any expressions of sympathy or condolence were offered. He was just sort of shoved aside as “the search for the woman continues…”

The woman in question is Vivian Borysiak, and in the days after Sergio’s comment, I started to notice missing-person signs for her all over town: on Transpo buses, at the grocery store, on the front door of my dry cleaners, etc. Here are a couple that I snapped pictures of:

Ms. Borysiak has been missing since February 2, and those pictures were taken on March 29 (two days after Mr. Miller’s body was found), so you could argue that there was a better chance of finding her alive than there was of finding someone who had been missing since early November. But you know what? I was riding Transpo buses and patronizing local businesses in November and December, too, and I don’t remember seeing any missing-person signs for Mr. Miller. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong about that. But it really does seem like there’s more of a concerted effort to find Ms. Borysiak than there ever was to find Mr. Miller.

I hate to make this sound like a competition, and I certainly don’t mean to cast any aspersions on Ms. Borysiak or her family — obviously I have every sympathy in the world for them, and I sincerely hope they find her safe and sound somewhere, somehow. But I can’t shake the feeling that there was a certain inequality here. This morning, Thomas Miller’s sister commented on my earlier blog post, and wrote: “I feel that this would have gotten more attention if he was a woman, dog or anyone other than a custodian.” Frankly, I understand why she feels that way.

Anyway, I hope today’s memorial mass brings some measure of comfort to Mr. Miller’s friends and family. Again, may he rest in peace.


Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Really. Just charming.

April (snow) showers kill May flowers?

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

When I blogged last week in anticipation of the coming “beautiful April day[s],” this isn’t exactly what I had in mind:

The weather promises to get a little warmer in the next few days, but we’re only supposed to be in the upper 50s by next Saturday — nowhere near the 73° we hit the day before this cold snap started:

I realize this is the result of a giant arctic air mass that’s affecting the whole eastern half of the country, causing snow on the cherry blossoms and ear muffs at the Masters, but still, I can’t help thinking of it as sort of a giant farewell middle finger from South Bend. :)

Tragedy as NDLS custodian found dead

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Notre Dame Law School custodian Thomas J. Miller, missing since November, has been found dead in Michigan, his body pulled from the St. Joseph River just north of the state line yesterday. “Officials didn’t find any signs of foul play, and don’t know how he got in the river,” according to WSBT. (Hat tip: Sergio.) The South Bend Tribune reports that Miller’s body was “caught up in tree limbs near the river bank.” WNDU adds: “Obviously this is not the news the Miller family wanted to hear, but it does bring some closure to all of the questions they’ve had since he went missing. Miller’s mother says her son was being treated for depression and had been through some ups and downs in the last year.” A watch found on Mr. Miller’s wrist stopped working on November 9, two days after he was reported missing. Miller was 48, and is survived by his parents, two sisters and a brother.

An awful tragedy. May he rest in peace.

Boom! Crash! Bang!

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Yeah, so, that was a pretty bitchin’ line of thunderstorms that just came crashing through South Bend. Current radar animation here; archived radar animation after the jump.


Purdue freshman found dead

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

The body of a Purdue freshman who vanished in January was found slumped over electrical machinery in the high-voltage utility room of a dorm. He apparently walked into the room upon returning from a frat party. It’s unclear how he was able to get in.

UPDATE: The Purdue Exponent has much more. There’s also a site, and a Help Find Wade Steffey MySpace page.