While in St. Louis today at the Americas Center, there was a deafening roar for about 20 seconds while I was chatting with an engineer during lunch at the PaperCon '09 conference. I though it was just intense rain or hail pounding the roof, but when I stepped outside moments later to get something from my car in a parking garage, I heard some girls talking about how they could have been killed by falling debris. Then I saw the damage that had been done to the hotel next door, the Renaissance Suites. Heard a hotel manager talking on a cell phone about an unconfirmed report of a small tornado. Might have just been speculation, but other bystanders reported incredibly intense winds for a while with things swirling around.

The winds/tornado stripped off a large section of the painted facade of the hotel, causing a large amount of debris to fall to the street. Looked like a mix of particle board and fiberglass.

Right now the Americas Center lights went off momentarily as the storm continues to rage. Wireless still on.

Several analogies suggest themselves. Building on the rock, reality versus facades, withstanding the winds of adversity, being prepared, and my favorite, avoiding tornadoes.

Well, that's it for now. Here's a few photos.

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