The current news events, primarily the tornadoes have brought back memories and I cannot help but think about how lucky I was…
I have been through a few tornadoes or twisters in my lifetime. Growing up I do not remember how we would find out about the warnings and watches except on TV or radio. Luckily, Father was a private pilot he knew the sky and what each cloud was and meant. There was Grandmother who had Arthur and the rumors. I later found out his real name was arthritis and that rumor was actually rheumatism. Grandmother’s body always told her when the weather was getting worse.
Our shelter was the basement, which we would spend hours in this one specific corner where father told us to go. Grandmother had a root cellar where they went or to their basement. During the Palm Sunday Tornado in the 60’s it was warm out, the sky-changed color, and were all ordered to the basement.
There have been a few other experiences with these wind storms; I saw a waterspout form way out on Lake Michigan. The first bad weather driving experience was going through some open farm land areas and saw a few dust devils going through the fields, uprooting trees; the wind so strong it was hard to control the car. Here I am a 17-year-old teenage driver, scared to death… I remember just stopping the car and sat there praying until the storm passed unharmed.
I drove through a few straight-line windstorms when I was older living on my own. I had my beau’s car; power lines down everywhere, a tree fell in front of the car as I slammed on the brakes, put the car in reverse and drove like crazy to get to his garage, got out of the car just as a tree fell behind it. Good news I survived, got a long lecture and his car only had a few scratches.
Going home driving through down the country roads and open farmland one warm, muggy Sunday it was easy to see the dark clouds out to the west. A few spouts form in the cloud; in that typical skinny funnel shape. They would drop down and disappeared in minutes running across the fields. Making for some anxious moments until I reached home, only to find out the tornadoes had hit several of the little towns I had been near.
In the past couple years I have had to repair storm damage; once from a confirmed tornado and the other times just very strong winds. I can honestly say there is a roaring sound just before it hits; sometimes hail and a thunderstorm are present just before.
However, now we have warnings and watches, radar, NOAA weather radios, and weather spotters. You can get info on your computers, TV, radio, Twitter, Facebook, cell phone, and the wonderful sirens. There is also the lore “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”. This quote actually comes from the Bible verse Matthew 16:2-3. “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, buy you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”
When the sky changes color and clouds darken, I keep my eyes looking upward and not just to the west. I do a 360 at the whole sky, say a pray, and pay attention to grandmother’s friend Arthur too!
The word tornado is Spanish for thunderstorm: yes, I read Wikipedia.