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First tornado warning

Friday, October 03, 2014

Ever since having been relocated here, I have dreaded the possibility of dealing with a tornado.

I grew up in CA so I am just fine with wildfires, landslides, riots, and yes, even earthquakes. I lived for the last 20 years or so in the Northeast so I became accustomed to hurricanes, blizzards, and ice storms.

But this whole death from above thing wigs me right out.

I am well aware that tornadoes can be severe here:

And they briefed us at work about how to prepare for such things.

It doesn't help that in the Delta region the water table is right at the surface so there aren't basements or underground shelters. Either they would leak or they would pop up through the ground. Even the fuel tanks in gas stations have to remain filled to a certain level or they become too light to stay below the ground.

Aboveground shelters do exist but I'm renting the home I live in (the one I own in NY hasn't sold yet) and there would be no way to install one here. There are no city shelters. So the only option is to go into an interior room and hope that's good enough.

So I was not super thrilled when my cell phone started honking at me and I saw the following message pop up:

I grabbed the computer and the phone and their cords and called the cats, and like good little pets they came like they are supposed to, and we all went into the bathroom to wait.

I'd texted the message to my bf who still lives in NY and he called so we talked on the phone while I hunted around for maps and information on the internet to figure out what was going on.

And I was not terribly thrilled to find this predicted track, where there were not one, but two potential tornadoes heading to my location:

So we hunkered down in there and I could faintly hear sirens and then I heard something really loud, and I think it was rain but maybe high winds too because the house creaked a little. About that time there were reports from the municipal airport of 68mph winds.

It got kind of hot in there because it's a tiny bathroom. To kill time I scooped the litter box and cleaned up the dry cat food they scattered around their dish (this is the guest bathroom so the cats own it).

Eventually at 9:45 the internet said the danger had passed but that there would be a watch until 2am. Lovely.

So now I've finally been through the drill. Things to remember for next time:

1) Put the radio in the bathroom and get batteries for it
2) Make sure there's TP for me in there (I usually don't use that toilet)
3) Have some cat treats in there, and protein bars and a couple bottles of water wouldn't hurt

To people who are used to these things I probably sound silly. Especially since I'm thousands of times more likely to get injured or killed driving back and forth to Little Rock than I am by a tornado. But the idea of sitting there in a stuffy little bathroom waiting for it to come and get me still wigs me out.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    OH I understand tornadoes and it's scary for me, as we have no basement at our house here in Kansas. Plus the one enclosed bathroom downstairs we have is in the SE corner of the house (the direction most tornadoes will come from, although they have been known to travel from north east towards the south west etc.).... I lived in Pasadena, CA one year and was awake during an earthquake, but never felt it because my friend and I were downstairs studying and listening to her Pink Floyd albums... but in recent months, we've felt a lot of earthquakes in Kansas coming in from Oklahoma or South Central Kansas where they are doing the fracking. And I lived in Florida and really didn't experience any hurricanes except part of one - but then about 10 years after we moved away, Florida started with a decade or so of increased hurricane activity... So you just have to be prepared!! I know I need to do a better job of preparing a "to go " bag...
    1923 days ago
    What excellent advice from MILLEDGE22 on being prepared.
    I only had one tornado in Detroit, MI, but it stayed far away.
    I remember the Quiet. No birds, not Nothing so eerie. Our neighbor was on his lawn capturing Earth worms, because they were coming out like crazy. (they must sense it coming) He got a lot and saved them for fishing.

    I grabbed my Doxie and headed into the basement, but my Mom and Dad stayed upstairs, I was panicing. Begging, plz come down to the basement.
    the sky was yellowish in color, making everything look so different, color wise.

    My heart goes out to anyone living with this threat.
    I too heard of the bath tub trick.
    Be sure animals are micro chipped.

    Be Safe.
    1984 days ago
    I'm a CA. kid, but now we live in a tornado area, so I know how you feel Near Joplin MO. So I don't care for this weather! emoticon
    2169 days ago
    You sound well prepared! That's great! Stay Safe! I'm praying for more sunny days than storms!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2172 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14731147
    tornado siren goes on and I'm in the basement! no ifs ands nor buts about it!
    I live in Missouri, I even set up a bed in the cellar- because it happens that often- with a weather radio/police scanner and flashlight...just in case
    2208 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/11/2014 3:40:17 AM
  • LE7_1234
    Doesn't sound silly AT All.

    I grew up in the midwest, so I had sort of the opposite reaction when I moved to California. I kept looking for the basement, in case of tornados... Oh, right....
    2212 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3337633
    Tornadoes freak me out and I have lived in Central Arkansas a lot of my life...collectively 19 years. They pop up so fast and you can't really predict how bad the weather will be or if it will be you that it hits and destroys your house or whatever.

    Sounds like you did great for your tornado!!
    2214 days ago
    I'm tornado survivor and it was terrifying. House was quite severely damaged and I had to rescue child and dog. Others died. Twenty-nine years later I still freak out every time we have a severe storm warning. So no, I don't think you are over-reacting: and I'm very glad you are OK.
    2216 days ago
    Oh my goodness! How terrifying that must have been... Not one but TWO tornados heading towards you. You did well...really, really well!!! And I'm so glad you're safe....

    2216 days ago
    I would take a blizzard over a tornado! Glad you were okay. That would wig me out too.
    2216 days ago
    2216 days ago
    How frightening, but you remained calm and did what you are suppose to do. Anything here in Southern California pales in retrospect to the Wicked Witch of the West scenario you just painted. Glad you (and the kitties) are safe and even better prepared next time. I bet it won't be as scary cause "fear of the unknown" is the worst!
    2216 days ago
    Whew...! Close call...used to live in the Chicago / SW Michigan area and while I haven't been through a tornado I've had some close calls and have seen the carnage they can wreak!

    Glad to hear you're safe!

    2216 days ago
  • GABY1948
    If you sound SILLY to ANYONE then THEY are nuts! So glad you made it through it all! And even learned a few things to do "next time". Hope there are none!

    Be SAFE!

    2216 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13354694
    emoticon emoticon
    2216 days ago
    scary stuff - we lived in north dakota for a while and within the first few days experienced our first tornado. now it's "just" wildfires and mudslides here in WA… sounds like this was a good trial run for you and it looks like some really good advice here in the comments. good luck!
    2216 days ago
    They are tough storms and I love that you are thinking of making your safe room a bit more human, tp and all!
    2216 days ago
    I, too, am hoping everything has already passed over by the time you read this.

    That said, I have lived my while life in the South's tornado belt and in 2011, I "had the privilege of relocating" after a tornado devastated my town. So here are some pointers:

    1. Stay calm! Panic isn't going to help you or anyone else.
    2. If bad weather is predicted, fill your car's gas tank and check flashlights to be sure batteries are fresh. Get a weather radio and do NOT depend on sirens. Know the difference between a "watch" and a "warning".
    3. When you head for that safe place, take some sort of helmet (bicycle or football are okay; if you have a motorcycle helmet, that's even better. Put on your shoes. WEAR A WHISTLE AROUND YOUR NECK.
    4. If you need to hunker down in the bathtub (often recommended) do NOT try to protect yourself by putting a mattress or pillow over your head. If the ceiling collapses, you can be uninjured but then suffocate. That's what the helmet is for. The whistle is so that you can be heard if you are caught in debris.
    5. Do not EVER become complacent or think it would be a good idea to go outside and video this event. Just go to your safe place, take a device that will keep you updated so you will know when the threat has passed, and hang in there. The good news is that (1) unlike eathquakes, you get advance warning and (2) unlike hurricanes or blizzards, you don't have a to watch and dread for days until you see if it is going to pass you by.
    6. Good luck!
    2216 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/3/2014 6:25:46 AM
    I think tornados are the scariest. I didn't realize until moving to Florida that tornados are part of a hurricane threat. I live in a double wide manufactured home. I can go to a shelter for a hurricane but still worry about tornados. emoticon

    I'd add some extra water. Have you thought about a mattress? I've read re using mattress over you to protect from falling debris.

    2216 days ago
    Yikes! Hope you're OK now.......

    2216 days ago
    be safe, take care emoticon
    2216 days ago
    I hope and pray that you will be O.K. !
    2216 days ago
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