Sunday, April 12, 2009

Storm stories

There were some pretty vicious storms that passed through the Southeast Friday night/Saturday morning. By some miracle (perhaps because it is a holy weekend?) our power never went out all the way, it just did that weird dimming/buzzing thing a few times, which was enough to make me unplug the important things - TV, computer and microwave. You laugh, but when Delorme and I lived in the little house on the lake, our house got hit by lightning and we lost two TV's, a VCR (it was the early 90's), two cordless phones and our microwave. It was then I first learned about the existance of this neat thing called renter's insurance. And the fact it really sucks when you don't have it.

Tornadoes scare the living shit out of me, unlike hurricanes. As a former Floridian, I've experienced them many times to the point I think I'm immune to them. Sure, there was that one summer we had four fairly serious ones in six weeks and lost power for two days and almost had a tree crash through our bedroom, but really? No biggie. Hurricanes give plenty of prior warning and then almost never follow through with much action. I'm not talking about Katrina, Andrew or Hugo here; those are obvious and painful exceptions. But believe me, most of the time the weather forecasters get their panties in a wad for four days, especially the ones in Florida who finally have something to talk about besides hot and humid, everybody gets excited and starts buying plywood, batteries and gallons of water and then usually there's some wind and rain for a day. It's usually a huge letdown, really. Most Floridians have even experienced going outside during one so at least you feel like you've had some excitement over the damn thing. I once made out in the middle of one - that was cool.

But a tornado? Oh hell no. My cousin lived in Missouri for awhile, or it may have been Kansas. One of those states that has Kansas City in it. (Why are there two Kansas Cities? That has always pissed me off) Anyway, she told me after awhile she got used to hearing the tornado siren go off, it happened so often. It didn't even phase her. I don't care how long I lived there; every time I heard that, I would react by simultaneously having a heart attack and shitting my pants. Do not like.

My only real firsthand experiences with the evil bastards was twice. They both happened here, years apart, but very close in proximity. The first time was the night before Delorme and I were splitting up and we were spending the night in that same lake house for the last time with our cat. If the tornado didn't pass directly over our house, it came damn close, judging by the screaming wind, rattling windows and fallen trees all over our yard the next morning. We'd spent the night on a mattress on the floor of the living room with the poor cat squeezed between us and didn't sleep much, if at all. I told him it must be God's way of telling us not to break up but he didn't listen to me and we broke up anyway.

The second one, the way more traumatic of the two, happened on the same lake (Is Lake Murray a tornado magnet? Must research) but after Brian and I had been living together for awhile. We went out with our friends for the day on their boat. That morning we'd checked the weather and while it did look like there was a possibility of overcast skies and possible rain late in the day, it was a bright shiny morning (also the name of the James Frey book I just checked out from the library) and we decided screw it; boat time! These people were actually our Redneck Friends 1.0 and we had just a few weeks before gone riding around in a mud hole with them (oh, you doubted the redneckness?), gotten stuck within the first ten minutes and had to walk three miles to the nearest civilization which happened to be a Waffle House which is like a beacon of all that is good and holy when you're cold and beer-drunk. Wow, got a little off track there.

Anyblah, we went out on their boat, just the four of us. Not sure where their kids were that day, but very thankful now they weren't with us. We tooled around for awhile having a great time, when late in the afternoon the skies did indeed start to darken. Then the sky started to look really weird. The air temperature literally dropped what felt like twenty degrees and looked to be almost this sick yellow/green color, if air could have a color. I forget who spotted it first, but sure enough there in the distance, one of the swirling clouds formed into a funnel before our eyes and dipped down into the water. Had I not actually been so close by on a fucking BOAT, I would've thought it was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen, and I guess now I can actually say it was, since we're alive and all. We actually saw a tornado form, touch down into the lake and become a water spout, spin around for a few minutes and then go back up into the evil cloud from whence it came.

The two shapes I'm scared of most: funnels and that weird pointy shape of the windows of the Amityville Horror house. It's true.

We didn't have time to be freaked out about just seeing that whole situation, because within seconds the clouds went from a light pissy rain to a torrential Noah's Ark situation. Dennis was driving the boat and shouted to Brian he couldn't see past the boat's bow. Brian climbed up there to guide him as lightning stopped fucking around and started getting serious. Michelle and I huddled together in the boat's tiny covered area and I tried to hide my extreme fear and the fact I had started to pray. No one else seemed freaked out and Brian even let out a few WHOOS and ALL-RIGHTS! Dumbass. In retrospect sure I felt dumb, but at the time I seriously thought we weren't going to make it. Though Florida may have made me unaffected by hurricanes, it did give me a healthy respect for lightning, and that's what was scaring me the most.

Of course all's well that ended well and now it's nothing but a stupid story for me to tell whenever someone brings up the subject of tornadoes. Or in this case, even when no one brings it up but I just feel like talking about it.

The only problem I discovered yesterday was not any damage to our house or cars (there had also been widespread hail reported) or any tree limbs down, but came about when we decided to watch the season finale of Friday Night Lights we'd taped the night before. The local news channel, the same one who a month ago swore we were going to be buried in snow for twelve hours straight and we got nary a flake, deemed it necessary to INTERRUPT THE SEASON FINALE OF MY FAVORITE SHOW three or four times throughout the episode. That was in addition to running that constant red line at the bottom that kept telling us we were under severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado watch until 1 a.m. and that horrible beeping noise. If you don't think I haven't already sent a very angry email to WIS-TV, you don't know me at all.

Happy Easter!


Anonymous said...

I have a crazy fear of tornadoes, too, which is weird because I've never even been CLOSE to seeing one in real life. I've ALWAYS said the same thing about hurricanes that you did - you can prepare for 'em! You can't prepare for a tornado or an earthquake - hence my unnatural fear - to the point of NIGHTMARES sometimes. Crazy stuff.

Have a happy Easter, my friend!

(OH, my word verification was "magma", which is another thing I have nightmares about - 'sploding volcanoes. Weird coincidence. Hmm...)

Anonymous said...

I'd never seen so much lightning or heard so much thunder as I did when the tornado came through my town last summer. I was so fortunate that the worst I got was some lightning hit a tree in my back yard and I was out of power for about three days. Luckily, Flea didn't lose power and I was able to borrow her generator to keep my pumps going but not before the basement flooded...AGAIN.

I can't say that I'm afraid of them, but I'd prefer not to see those warnings and watches come across my tv and it has nuttin' to do with interrupting my favorite show. Haha!

LL Cool Joe said...

The most I've ever experienced in the UK is a heavy thunderstorm. They don't scare me at all, in fact I find them quite exciting. I do turn off the computer though as the thought of being without that for days does scare me. :D

Happy Easter mate!!

Kim said...

Snerk - one of the few recurring dreams I've had involves tornadoes; I hate them.

Heather - The footage you sent of the tornado last summer still gives me chills when I think about it. I'm so glad your house was spared!

Joe - I like thunderstorms too. As long as I'm comfy and indoors! Today I'll be out driving in it and going to work which should be great.

Anonymous said...

The most important thing...

You should be able to go to and see the whole episode in its' entirety.

Taoist Biker said...

I have a theory about severe weather.

Tornadoes occur without warning, but do damage over a limited area.

Hurricanes cause widespread devastation, but you have plenty of warning.

The real bastard is earthquakes. Widespread damage, no warning. Boom. So screw that noise.

We had a very small (F0) tornado come through about 500 yards from my parents' house in 1999. We were visiting my folks from our more tornado-prone Midwestern home and got hit THERE. Heh. It was pouring buckets of marble-sized hail and we hit the basement. Afterward was the freaky dad and I went up the road to my uncle's house to see if everybody was okay, and as the storm passed the hail was melting and steaming off the hot black asphault, making for a thick blanket of fog about a foot off the road.

Then there was the time in the midwest when the sirens hit, we lived in a trailer, and I was home alone with Boy (about 6 months old at the time). No time to get to Dys's folks house a mile away with the baby, so I put him in the hallway farthest from windows and hunkered down. No tornado, but the straight-line winds hit 70 and it was blowing rain straight through the seams of the windows in the back room.

Kim said...

TB - What nightmarish experiences. Just reading that made me feel sick.
I like your theory though and yeah - screw earthquakes!