The London bombings, recent security alerts in Birmingham and fears of terrorists living in our midst have put everyone on heightened alert.
But no one would have believed it would be a force of nature that eventually brought calamity to the city.
Just after 2.30pm in Kings Heath, cars and buses skidded to a halt and people ran for cover as a tornado ripped through the High Street.
The black funnel of whirling air, some hundred metres across according to eyewitnesses, came from nowhere, injuring eight people and causing untold damage.
Like something out of a Hollywood movie, it hit the top end of Kings Heath and tore through the grounds of All Saints Church at the Vicarge Road junction.
Mature trees were sucked out of the ground and came crashing down on to the pavement.
A shocked bus driver forced to pull over said: "I saw a tree fall. Then the next one and then the next one." In total about six trees were destroyed at the church.
The tornado then continued up the High Street causing devastation in its wake.
The roof of Greggs Bakers was pulled off by the churning mass of air which by now had picked up glass and other debris.
"There was an old lady coming along the footpath," said the bus driver.
"She lost lots of blood. There was blood on the High Street. Her arm seemed to be just hanging on."
Witnesses spoke of cars being turned over, doors and roofs being ripped off buildings by the destructive whirlwind reaching high up into the sky.
The tornado then appears to have turned right on to Institute Road, smashing the front glass of an Iceland store, scattering tins of food off shelves into the street.
As it moved on towards Balsall Heath, the tornado left shoppers and workers on the city's third biggest High Street in a state of shock.
Walking through the area in the aftermath was like a scene from a disaster movie.
Crowds of displaced people were wandering around the back roads, the police having by now sealed off the High Street.
Many of them spoke animatedly into their mobile phones, telling friends and family about what they had just witnessed.
"There's been a tornado in Kings Heath!" one youth exclaimed in disbelief into his mobile.
People evacuated from shops and businesses gathered at each end of the cordoned off area spoke animatedly to each other.
Walking through nearby streets, now crammed with traffic, gave an indication of how widespread the tornado had hit.
Roof tiles, tree branches and bits of masonry were scattered on the pavements. Front garden fences were ripped out. Bushes and hedges uprooted.
Nearly two hours on, the empty High Street was still a no-mans land, dominated by police officers and other emergency workers.
It bore an uncanny resemblance to the kind of images we have grown used to seeing on TV screens in recent weeks.
As John Lighton, acting deputy inspector at Kings Heath police station said: "At first we thought the worst, but clearly it wasn't that."
At least not this time. But yesterday was a reminder that nature can be just as destructive a force as man.