Hail and High WindsPosted: April 23, 2010
The mention of it constricts my breathing and quickens my pulse. Bad weather frightens me, as well as fascinates me. All that power. Enough to make sane people stop what they’re doing and track red on radar coming at them.
When my children were little and we lived in a house with a long hallway and a cedar closet, many times as a storm approached, I yanked them up and stuck them in that dark enclosure pressed against and between hanging clothes, poor little guys probably scared to pieces and trembling as they were instilled with the fear of lightning and thunder and worried about their mama, out watching the dark clouds roil. It was a far cry from my childhood when my friend Mary Sue’s mother would make us sit on a foam rubber pillow during a thunderstorm because we’d be safe then. We could still play paperdolls and draw pictures.
One afternoon when my kids were elementary age, one was in school two blocks from home and one at a private academy twenty miles away, and a tornado was headed straight across I-20 toward us all. I couldn’t go get my younger one because even at dismissal time, they locked the school down, and with the older one, there was nothing I could do but picture him in that flat prefab aluminum building with twisting winds surrounding him. I sat on my den floor and watched TV radar, choked down some breaths, called some other mothers for support, realized that all the children would be huddled in the halls praying, and when the storm passed, all I could think to do was call the town’s police station and ask, “Can you please tell me if the academy is still standing?” It was.
Then came the night of a bad storm and straight-line tornadic winds and sirens going off, when my son who was home from college got up in the middle of the night with me, and he watched the black sky out the back door, while I kept watch out the front and the TV showed the inching red…and my husband slept soundly. That storm blew my fence down and laid a corkscrew willow across my patio and uprooted my neighbor’s hundred-year-old hackberry, as my child, my dog, and I huddled in my tiny bathroom…and my husband slept soundly.
Then there was the ’98 Nashville tornado, a full day’s outbreak of storms. As I backed out of the driveway to head to work across from Centennial Park where the storm hit, I heard the first alert of the day on the car radio. I pulled back into the garage, went inside and said to my husband who was showering, “We’re in a tornado warning and I’m driving right into it,” and then I left again before he could think to say a word. I only worked mornings, so when the Big One hit, I wasn’t there, but heard tales the following day of how the architects stood at the big glass windows and watched the birds fly backwards.
I’ve watched the movie Twister at least a thousand times. (I do love disaster movies.)
I don’t like it when the Weather Channel says STRONG STORMS for Saturday and when the Main Street Festival folks assign those of us who will be manning a booth a shelter to go to during a tornado warning.