Thursday, 7 October 2010

Tornados and a Meteor

The dawn of day 106 showed us something I have never seen before. Jackie and I have were staying in Flagstaff and the weather was not good. It was very dark, raining, sometimes with hailstones and it was very windy. A check of the weather forecast and morning news showed us that two tornados had touched down in Bellemont, just 10 miles to the west of where we were. Large trucks had been pushed over, houses damaged and 28 train cars were derailed. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured.

Our plan for the day was to go see Meteor Crater on the east side of Flagstaff, but we decided against travelling on the bike due to the ongoing bad weather. We rented a car for the day and it was just as well, as the strong winds lasted until well into the afternoon.

Meteor Crater was formed about 50,000 years ago when a meteor weighing approximately 300,000 tons hit the earth at a very high speed. Estimates of the speed very between 12 and 25 kilometres per second (45,000 and 28,600 mph). It is estimated the crater took less than 10 seconds to be formed. The meteor vaporised on impact and very little of it has ever been found.

The crater is about 1,200 m (4,000 ft) in diameter, some 170 m deep (570 ft), and the its rim rises about 45 m (150 ft) above the general level of the land surrounding the crater. It is an impressive sight.

Access to the crater is limited to near the visitor centre, which houses a museum, a threatre where talks are given and a short video shown about the formation of the crater.

Here are some of the pictures we took....

The crater....


























































Jackie taking a picture of the slope and rim....


























Jackie’s picture of the slope and rim!....




















The crater and by now, a terrific blue sky....


























Taken by Jackie, this is me struggling to walk in the still very strong wind....




















When standing at the rim, it is not possible to include all of the crater in one photo, at least not with my standard lens and I had forgotten to take my fisheye lens with me!

10 comments:

Geoff James said...

That's a seriously big crater Gary and something I'd love to see. Not sure when it touched down, but it must have had an impact (no pun intended) on the worldwide climate.

Thank you for that!

bluekat said...

What? You don't want to ride in Tornadoes and wind?? Good call on the car rental, it looks pretty windy in the last photo. Pretty amazing photos of the crater. :)

Axel said...

Wow, what pictures and report. Just entered Toranda and Flagstaff in Google, and got some pictures of the rare twister you just escaped.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/07/arizona-tornado-2010-seri_n_754667.html#s152425
The meteor and tornado show clearly what dangers nature can throw at us, and all we can do is watch in awe.
You and Jackie, and the Leading Ladies, please stay safe

motoroz said...

I had heard about the tornadoes and was hoping that you were not in the middle of them. The Crater is quite impressive. Watch out for that stiff wind.

iansolley said...

Hey we were in Flagstaff that day - and didnt it rain and hail - we sheltered for the worst of it then rode south!

Charlie6 said...

Gary and Jackie, I've been to this meteor crater, it's quite the sight I must agree. This was before my motorcycling days however....must return to it someday.

Did you two walk all the way around it?

dom

Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Mike said...

Amazing photos Gary! Both the crater and the weather are reminders that we're just spinning on a planet. I'm with Bluekat, Harleys are pretty heavy and tornado proof... aren't they?

Gary France said...

Geoff – It was 50,000 years ago. It wasn’t the meteor that they believe wiped out the dinosaurs, but it must have impacted the weather on the planet.

bluekat – I sometimes do some silly things, but riding in tornadoes? No thanks! It was very windy indeed!

Axel – I heard today that Arizona has on average 4 tornadoes per year and that on that morning, there were nine that touched down! Nature can be a powerful beast at times!

Oz – We were lucky, being 10 miles away from the worst of it. When we rode to the Grand Canyon the next day we crossed the path where the tornadoes had been – there was a huge amount of damage to the trees in the forest, with many being snapped off half way up their trunks.

Ian – We watched the hail from inside, which is where I hope you were when it was happening. Or were you out in it? I can’t believe we were so close again!

Charlie6 / Dom – No, they don’t let people walk around the rim. Would we have walked around it if we could – probably not, it is a long way to scramble over so many rocks!

Mike – Both show how vulnerable we can be at times. Nature can be very impressive and frightening at times. Harley’s tornado proof? – I don’t personally want to test that theory....

Eve said...

I would love to get there some day Gary. Sure hope that doesn't happen again any time soon!!!

Gary France said...

Eve - Northern Arizona / Southern Utah is a fantastic place to go see on a bike. If you get the chance, grab it with both hands.