March is the windy month but most Key Peninsula residents are hoping to skip any more windstorms after the winter experiences. Among the many stories provided by those storms, the visit of a rogue tornado to the Janet and Richard Gormly residence near Vaughn Bay has them still in a state of wonder.

The tornado made a complete mess of the couple’s home. Photo courtesy Theodore Ralston

After midnight on the morning of Dec. 14, a blast of noise followed by a loud roar and then a terrible screech woke up the sound asleep Gormlys. Next, they thought they were experiencing an earthquake. “The bed shook, the whole house shook,” Janet Gormly said.

In the daylight hours, with the help of their daughter and son-in-law, who live nearby, they solved the mystery of the shakes and rattles. Richard Gormly explains the result of the twister’s visit by the effect it had on the north wall of the living room: “The wall actually bulged. The pressure was so intense inside, it actually pushed the wall (out of shape).”

Janet Gormly described the incident in her New Year’s letter. Below are excerpts.

“One week and four days before Christmas, the state of Washington was forewarned that a hard wind and rain storm was coming. And indeed it did! During this storm, a freak twister — gust of wind — hit our house (only ours in a whole row), blowing off the roof of the living room wing and damaging the deck and the sun-screening on the south side of that room. The whole house shuddered and I was certain we were having an earthquake as well as a storm.

This board landed in the Gormlys living room during a strange tornado event in December. Photo courtesy Theodore Ralston

“Needless to say, it was frightening, and at 1 a.m. we decided to move downstairs to sleep for the rest of the night. We happened to glance into the living room and were astounded to see it completely scrambled. No window was broken, and we finally fell asleep still puzzled by a large chunk of timber on the floor.

“The next day we figured out what happened. The roof had lifted like a trunk lid, still attached to the rest of the house, pulling out nails, and slamming back down almost in place. Some things went out and some came in. One curtain was gone, rod and all. Another did not completely make it, and still hangs half out and half in. What came in was an 8- foot-long timber.

“In an incredible feat of perfect timing, with the sunscreen going in the opposite direction, the roof lifted momentarily; the timber board slid in and settled down without damaging a thing; and half of the window curtain escaped and landed high in our apple tree, looking like a gleeful elf.

“We have cleared the room; the insurance wheels are grinding slowly, and some reconstruction action will eventually take place. There has been no water damage to any furnishings. We are snug in the undamaged part of the house. We are alive, unhurt, and very thankful it was no worse… And so, belatedly, we send our best wishes for a happy and more hopeful New Year.”

Tide begins to turn for unregulated aquaculture
Geoduck forum draws large crowd