Category Archives: Misc

Snapping turtle in bluff park

Today on my ride into work, I almost hit a large snapping turtle at the bottom of the Mountain Oaks descent up in Bluff Park. It was in the curve right before the covered bridge, and it wasn’t moving so I knew it had no hope of making it across the street without getting hit. I tried to scare it off, but it wouldn’t move. About a minute or two later, a nice older lady came around the curve and asked if I needed any help. I said sure, do you have a blanket or something to help me move this turtle? She got one of those mesh carpets you lay on a floor to keep a rug from sliding on a hardwood floor out of her trunk and handed it to me. I started to pick up the turtle and everything was fine as I started to pick it up. I had lifted it about a foot off the ground at the spot where it’s feet were finally starting to lift off the ground and it snapped HARD up and to the right toward my right arm. It couldn’t quite reach me, but the lady screamed and I very quickly set the turtle back down. By this time, there was another car stopped behind the first lady’s car and a pick-up truck had stopped coming the other way with another car behind it. A guy got out of the pick-up truck with a shovel, but by this point the turtle had crawled on top of the mesh. I started to drag the mesh over to the side of the road and the guy in the pick-up truck picked up the other side of the mesh and we got the turtle off the road where it promptly crawled and fell about 4 feet down into a drainage opening. I could see it at the bottom and it was right side up and moving so I thought it must be ok. I went back later after work, and looked inside the drainage ditch and there was no sign of the turtle – so I think it must have made it back down to the creek. From my first effort at picking it up, I’d say it weighed somewhere between 5-10 pounds. That’s a lot of turtle for that high up on a mountain in Birmingham – who knows what it must be eating to get that big. I hope it isn’t chipmunks, squirrels and/or small cats.

Chalkville Tornado Damage

Red cross shelter information here: http://newsroom.redcross.org/2012/01/23/press-release-red-cross-assessing-damage-from-severe-weather-overnight/
Donate through the red cross “donate now”
Or I saw a drop-off location for donations in the K-Mart located just off I-59, exit 141, turn left, K-mart parking lot on the right as you are climbing the hill on Chalkville Rd

Tornado sirens went off at 3:30AM this morning … tornado north of us and tornado south of us. By the time I had made a spot in the basement for Kristine and the kids, it was pretty clear that the tornadoes were going to go around us — although the one that I rode out to today veered farther south than the original warning polygon had indicated. I was hoping that I could see the damage path from the ridges annotated in the map because I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way trying to help clean up … but there were too many houses and the valley where the tornado went through was too deep to see anything so I ended up cautiously just riding onto Old Springville Rd which was closed after asking a sheriff if I could make it through without bothering anyone. He said to watch out for the power lines and that it shouldn’t be a problem. Well, I was pretty much bunny hopping power lines for about 1/4 mile. Here is an annotated map showing where I took pictures and my best guess at the tornado path based on the damage I could see on the ground … This is the tornado that went north of Birmingham passing through parts of Fultondale, Center Point, Chalkville, Clay.

Tornado path map annotated You can view my complete ride and then zoom in on the northern end to see streetview and detailed satellite pictures of the area before the tornado by going here: http://app.strava.com/rides/3557123

UPDATE: a better description of the tornado path is listed here – http://www.alabamawx.com/?p=56602 Scroll down to – TORNADO #5 – CENTER POINT TORNADO (JEFFERSON AND ST CLAIR) Based on the description there, I have updated the tornado path to the following:

Updated tornado path based on NWS description

After looking at the streetview and satellite pictures, the damage is much worse than I had originally thought – the first houses have been pushed completely off their foundations. See the comparison photos below which are taken at slightly different angles which I tried to indicate as best as possible.

Aerial view of neighborhood before tornado

Streetview of neighborhood before tornado

Comparison photo after the tornado from as close an angle as I could get to the streetview photo above

Paradise Ln - heavy damage

First view (from water towers)… ridge blocking tornado path

These are the rest of the pictures I took…