Tornado ~ Tuscaloosa, AL 4/27/11

Okay, I admit it.  I’m a news junky when it comes to catastrophic events.  Yesterday I found myself watching video after video of the tornadoes that tore through the South Wednesday afternoon and evening.  Reading articles and looking at pictures.  Massive tornadoes like this are horrific and yet fascinating.  Hey, you out there, I know I’m not the only one that thinks like this….LOL…..admit it.  I loved the movie Twister.  There is something about them, the sheer force of Mother Nature telling you she could care less what you have built where on her Earth.  They drop from the sky, wreak their havoc, and just as inexplicably disappear right back up into the clouds they came from leaving the sun to shine on the destruction they have wrought and the lives they have forever damaged.

The one that hit Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, AL was absolutely devastating, an EF5, the worst out there.  It was also mesmerizing to watch.  They think that tornado started in Birmingham and then traveled the 60 miles to Tuscaloosa, picking up strength all the way.  Tuscaloosa didn’t stand a chance and they had warning that it was coming.  Hell, what can you do to avoid a mile wide tornado?  Not everyone is in a place to hear warnings, etc.  The warning sirens go off and what do you do?  Immediately think of your family and where they are and how do you get to them?  Can you get to them?  Can you trust whoever has your kids to get them to safety?  And before you know it, it’s there.  And it’s too late.

My heart goes out to all of those all across the South who have lost family members, hell, whole families have been lost.  I have sent prayers out for all of the injured and those who have lost so much.  People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, friends, pets….this list goes on.  Their lives will never be the same because of this one terrible storm.  Looking at some of the videos and photos online is just heartbreaking.  Whole neighborhoods just flattened.  Apartment buildings leveled.  Can you imagine trying to find bits and pieces of your life in all of that mess???  I can’t imagine it.

We had an evening and night of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and Tornado Warnings on Wednesday as well.  It can be nerve wracking to say the least.  At least in this old house we have a really neat root cellar we can go hide in, I have lived in many houses without even a basement when I lived in NC.   My TinMan lovingly told me I was over-reacting a bit to the warnings and to the way the sky looked Wednesday evening.  (He has lived through multiple hurricanes, a few tornadoes, etc and has many years of preparedness skills behind him.)  I just smiled back and told him that I had been through tornadoes before too, most of the time I have been alone with the kids and had no one but me to worry about all of the “what ifs.” So, when I hear the warnings I take them seriously and try to prepare for the “what ifs.”  I have always been that way…get the important stuff together so it can be taken to the “safe spot” if we need to go.  What’s on your list of stuff to get into your safe spot?  For me, it’s my kids, my purse, my phone, this laptop, my camera, the pets (if they can be corralled).  The rest could be replaced.  I know one thing we have to get cracking on is putting together bug out bags (BOB) for everyone.  That is a bag/backpack that has everything in it you would need to survive for a few days away from home during the event of a crisis/catastrophe like a tornado ripping through your house or town.

When the boys were small, both still in daycare, we had a really bad tornado come through our area in NC.  I worked in the next town over as a home health nurse and was at the office.  A good 25 minute drive on a good day.  We heard the warnings, the sky got black and no one would let me leave….the storm was heading on a direct path from where I was at toward my home.  When it blew past my location I left….couldn’t get anyone on the phone at the daycare and my ex was at home and I couldn’t get him on the phone either.  The whole trip home along the back road, I could see the very distinct path this “storm” made.  They never did call it a “tornado”  but just really bad straight line winds.  Yeah right.  I couldn’t get onto my street, trees were down everywhere.  It took me 20 minutes to find a way down to my house.  Thankfully my ex was okay, the house was okay.  The daycare was about 5-6 miles from our house, they still were not answering the phone.  It took us 2 hours to find a way to make it through town to get to the daycare.  Thankfully, it too was unscathed and the kids were okay.

Several times since then I have been alone during particularly bad storm periods where tornadoes seem to be everywhere, multiple tornado warnings in a single day and night.  Some seasons you have bunches and others not.  I’m not a panicky person, but I am a cautious one.  They put out the warnings for a reason.  Weather forecasting is much better at placing these events now than they used to be, very sophisticated radar can almost place them on dime.  When they warn you that a tornado shows up on the radar close to your vicinity, you take heed.  Well, TinMan doesn’t discount that but he also said that I need to learn to look at the sky and listen to what is going on around me.  I do, but he is right, I’ll give him that  :), maybe I’m not as focused on that as I should be.  When a tornado is heading your way it will get very still just prior, the birds will go silent and the wind will calm for a moment.  The sky will start to get pitch black and that unmistakable roar will be heard in the distance.  While we had some ominous looking clouds Wednesday night, the other signs were not in our immediate area.  However, they give warnings for a reason and Mother Nature, well, she is a fickle woman after all….LOL.  Sometimes you can’t tell what is heading your way until it is upon you. Be prepared.

So, when warnings come our way I will remain vigilant.  Keeping my ears and eyes open and watch the radar and listen to the weather reports.  My family is all I have and if we sit in the root cellar for an hour or so for nothing but a bad storm, well, then so be it.

On the note that tornadoes are fascinating creations of Mother Nature – have you ever wanted to go storm chasing?  You know they have “vacations” set up with storm chasers out in the mid-west, saw it once on the Travel Channel.  Big Grin.  I would love to see one up close….like maybe way out in a Kansas dirt field and know that no one was going to get injured or lose their homes because of it.  Sigh.  We all know that is a rare event.  I guess I will keep being a tornado video junky and keep praying for those who are almost always caught in their paths.  And that no one I love and care for is ever in the path of one.




2 responses to “Tornadoes

  1. I am equally fascinated and horrified by tornadoes. Also living in the midwest, I’ve had my share of close calls and terrifying experiences. I am always watching the weather and keeping a close eye on things, just to be sure. When the kids were still tiny, I kept a bag packed near the stairs to the basement that had all the things I’d need to take care of a baby (diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, changes of clothes) just in case I ever needed it. The closest I ever came to actually being “in” one was when a 100 year old tree out in my front yard finally split down the middle and just narrowly missed my porch roof. That was the one house I lived in that did not have a basement and I nearly panicked every time the weather turned bad.

    As terrifying and dangerous as these storms are, I think I would love to be on a storm chase. At least once. To be able to see, from a safe distance mind you, the horrifyingly destructive power of Mother Nature would be incredible. As long as I’m a parent of young children, though, that will not happen. I’ll stick with watching the videos on TV or going along on a virtual chase (search for “tornado alley live” and you’ll find the site) until they are grown and out of the house.

  2. I was on the phone with my parents who live in Jasper, GA straight in the path of a couple of big cells going through last Wednesday night. They were very lucky as they only lost power and had minor wind damage. I too was fascinated watching the news coverage, seeing the capriciousness of the paths the storms took and the power of nature. The news coverage is so detailed and immediate. Amazing! My only brush with a tornado was in my twenties. I was staying at my boyfriend’s mother’s house as his dad was in the hospital dying of cancer and she needed a friend to be with her during this time. We went to sleep and I woke up and sat bolt upright and heard the “freight train” bearing down and I got up quickly and yelled out her name and she got up and ran down the hall to me. Just as she was clear of her bed, her sliding glass door shattered, spewing glass all over the bed. We stood in the interior hallway (no basement) holding on to each other as the storm raged outside and finally passed. There was considerable damage to houses in the neighborhood and one person lost their roof. Scary stuff, but no loss of life.

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