My daughter went to her bedroom closet as the weather alarm sounded with the tornado warning. As my husband grabbed the dog and put him next to her, he noticed that she was wearing her bike helmet. He decided it was a great idea and went to grab his hard hat. (The helmet was all her idea, but I have since learned that it is taught in some tornado preparedness training in schools…of course, we home school so I am glad my daughter has common sense).
The cats followed me to the bedroom and curled up next to bed…just like they had done in the first round of storms. As I reached the closet door, my phone rang. It was our local emergency service calling for the fifth time that day. This time it was telling of the second tornado warning of the day.
I turned on the portable TV in the closet and watched the continual coverage by the local station while wishing digital television had not been invented as the reception made it difficult to watch.
The closet became very stuffy by the time the storm passed to our north. Everyone was happy to get out of the closet this time.
We had lost electricity after sheltering in closet a few minutes. This time I knew it was going to be off for days.
We would have another break between the nasty lines of storms. We took the time to look for damage. We found a county crew just up from our house cutting a tree that had fallen from the middle of the road. They had apparently been down the road as the last storm hit and now had to cut their way out…it did not take them long.
We ate an early dinner of leftovers from the refrigerator…leg of lamb, ham, salad…trying to use as much of what we could before it could go to waste. We also added more blankets to the top of the chest freezer to retain as much of the cold as possible.
It did not require a formal thunderstorm or tornado warning to tell us that it was going to be bad this time, the sky gave it away.
What you can’t tell in this photo is just how green the entire sky gets. It was the greenest sky of the day.
When I turned on the portable television in the closet, I heard the announcer say that the he could not believe the storm was traveling at the 90+ miles an hour it was saying on their equipment. He did say that he did believe that the 140+ mile an hour wind was correct. Then they saw the first debris balls on the radar, I knew this was by far the worst one in the area yet. As I watched, a second tornado formed and the first one diminished. It was headed directly for us…then we lost the television signal. After cursing digital television, I tried to regain the signal to no avail. We listened as the rain (and it turns out some debris) hit the roof. Eventually, things outside seemed to die down. My husband left the closet first to check. Although it was still raining, the worst had passed.
There would be one more tornado warning for us that night…a couple of hours later…we saw hail, but no tornado in our immediate area. However, we would not know of the warning until the next day as our weather radio never went off for anything more than a thunderstorm warning and our cell phones were without service at the time.
Unfortunately, the strongest and deadliest tornadoes for the area hit just after our county’s last tornado. There would be two EF-4 killer tornadoes within an hour. One community even had two tornadoes near it at one time (and EF-4 and an EF-2).
The last tornado in the area was the same strength as the first, an EF-1. It touched down just after 9:30 pm more than 13 hours after it all began.