Spring is on it's way, and in some areas of the country, we're forced to think about the kind of weather Miss Spring brings with her. I was gently reminded yesterday, when we found ourselves under a tornado watch, about our brush with the beast last April. My daughter also published a blog post about severe weather conditions, that spawned tornadic activity near her home in Texas. Here is a link to her post ... and here is mine:
It was the end of April 2011, during that whole tumultuous spring that sent severe tornadoes whipping across the whole country. It started out just like any other lovely spring day in the south. Every person in the neighborhood, under fourteen, was playing outside in the court. Leaving every adult in my house free to pursue Internet gaming happiness.
We never would've known about the tornado watch we were under, if it hadn't been for kids next door being called inside by their parents. I called my own youngins inside, and we gathered around the television.
A watch before a warning.
A watch means that weather conditions are favorable for something severe to develop.
A warning means that the severe conditions have formed and are coming your way.
It's kind of scary, when the station replaces regular programming with continuous weather coverage. Especially when you can tell that it isn't a produced segment, but actual live coverage. The weatherman travels back and forth between the computer equipment on his desk, where he constantly checks the national weather service, and the green screen where he shows us the storm tracking radar. You can hear phones ringing in the background, and people shuffling about. Once in a while, he'll stop reporting, because there's a new warning being issued, and he has to read the report, while on the air, and then figure out how he's going to report it to us. Then they start showing us live webcam footage from traffic cameras around the county. That's when we heard that the storm system moving in was spawning multiple tornadoes along it's path.
It was probably no more than fifteen minutes from the time that we heard about our tornado warning, until the tornado watch took effect. That's when I began to prepare our safe room. The laundry closet, the most internal room of the house, which is perfectly tucked under the staircase was the best place to be. I pulled out the carpet shampooer, and the kitty litter box, swept the floor, and filled the space with pillows and blankets. I put new batteries in the portable radio, and laid them on the dryer, along with the rechargeable flashlight, and some candles. When I thought I was through, my son pointed out that the walls were covered in shelving that held heavy tools and my sewing machine, baskets and boxes of loose hardware, and bags of stuff that I've been holding onto to sell on Craig's List. If a tornado does come near our house, those walls are going shake, and all those hazards are going come down in our heads. So, we quickly set to work dragging all of it into the dining room.
Then the weatherman began to describe funnel clouds in neighborhoods that we were familiar with, not far from us, and moving in our direction. I remember how frightening the colorful radar pictures seemed, with the enormous green area, filled with large spots of red, and purple... right before the power went out. As soon as we turned on the portable radio, the DJ began calling out the names of the streets that we travel down on a regular basis, that were acting as a highway for the funnel clouds.
Hubsy stood by the back door and watched the weather change right before his eyes. I joined him occasionally, between anxious pacing, setting up the safe room and getting the kids settled into it, gathering up the things that I couldn't bare to lose (my laptop, the family computer tower, camera, household managements book with all of our important documents in it, and flash drives of all my ancestry research and decades of family photos). The sky grew more ominous by the second. The wind blew hard in spontaneous spurts. We could hear tree limbs breaking and falling onto the forest floor. The rain was beating hard against the windows. Then, rather suddenly, our view through the forest was seriously diminished. I could not see anything past the treeline. There was no debris, and it didn't seem like rain, but more like the air became visible. Visible, rumbling air. When "they" say that it sounds like a freight train coming, "they" are not kidding.
And then it was gone. The sky became clear, and grew bluer and bluer by the moment. Rays of sunlight were shining down on the street. Birds began to sing. Ironically, it felt very much like stepping out of a funnel cloud and into the Land of Oz. I had never seen the world look so beautiful, and I had never felt such a sense of joy and gratitude, although it took hours for the nervous trembling to fade.
Flash forward nearly a year, and I don't feel any more prepared than I did that day, even though I've cleaned out my laundry room a bit, and I have a bigger box of supplies. I guess we're never really prepared for that kind of destruction. There's a reconciliation that takes place in the mind. You have to admit that you are powerless over nature, and regardless of the preparations, if the storm wants us, it's going to take us. But you also can never be lulled into a state of complacency. So, you do what you can, and ask God for help with the rest. And in the meantime, C'Mon Spring!