Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Whirlwind Of Tales

There have been so many stories of tornadoes this year. And it is only February!

It seems as if the outbreak of tornadoes started early this year. I remember late spring and summer as being the time to have to watch. We are seeing them pretty much all year here lately.

When my children and I lived in Tennessee we liked to sit on the porch and watch the rain. One day as we were enjoying a thunderstorm I saw a tornado over the Cumberland Mountains. I readied the children to take cover in the center of the house as the tornado looked like it was headed our way. Then I saw it sort of back up and disappear behind the mountains again.

Pardon me while I knock on wood... I have not had a personal loss from a tornado but have had close calls. Family members have also had problems but thankfully no injuries.

My parents had friends who lived in the country. We were spending the weekend at their farm because they had a pond for swimming. During the middle of the night a sudden storm came up. The noise was unbearable.

The next morning when we woke up we saw the path made by a small twister. It was only a few feet from the house.

When I was 9 years old my father had taken a job at a dairy farm in Washington. Mom took care of packing our things and selling what we could not take with us on the train.

Our final day at our house my aunt and uncles came to help. Mom had to run into the next town to pick up a few last minute things. We kept on working.

When Mom returned we took some time to rest. It was a warm  It was late in the afternoon but the sun was still out. We were sitting on the hood of the car and noticed a tornado in the distance. We watched it for the longest time. To a child it seemed like hours.

We later found out that we had been watching a tornado that decimated the town of Milford, Nebraska. And we saw it from that far away.

My aunt who lived in Cleveland told about the time she heard what sounded like a freight train rumbling past her window. The next morning she found out that a tornado had done a lot of damage on the other side of Cleveland.

While living in Detroit I was fascinated by the color of the sky. It was not just the sky I suppose. Everything looked an odd green color.

There were several small whirlwinds or tornadoes in Detroit that night. All were near us. One of them went down Fort Street swirling the trash that normally lies in and around the street. It never looked cleaner.

Another time there was a tornado that followed the path of one of the freeways for a couple of miles to the amazement of motorists who also wished to use the freeway.

My son and his family live in another part of Michigan in the country. For some reason they are affected by tornadoes often. Just last year there was a tornado out their way. A huge tree in my son's yard was torn out of the ground by the roots. Luckily it did not land on the house.

My grandson lives right across the road from his father. He lost a part of the roof from his house.

My granddaughter lives in a small nearby town. Electrical wires were torn from her house by the same storm system.

When my daughter-in-law worked for the same superstore chain as I did she called me at my store. A tornado had torn the roof off her store. The produce department gave an open view of the sky.

During the same time as that tornado another tornado attacked a strip mall across the street from my store. While people were in the stores shopping the front window of a store that rented and sold movies was ripped right off the store. No one was seriously hurt.

A year later as I was pulling into the parking lot to go to work the siren began to shriek. I parked my car and went to the front of the store looking everywhere to see what the emergency was. Store security was herding people into the store but I was an employee so I kept looking... until they herded me in too.

I went to the cash office where I worked. We had always been advised to go into the walk-in safe in case of any emergency because that is the safest place to be. The acting manager of the store panicked as she so often did. She forced all of us to go to the back storeroom of the store.

That was where customers and employees all huddled away from the storm. The power went out and we were in the dark for a couple of minutes until our auxiliary power source took over.

That meant there were a at least 100 people in cramped quarters with dim lights and NO air conditioning. There were several children in our group. We found some toys in the merchandise there and gave them to the children to ease their fears and keep them busy.

We actually heard the tornado go over the store. We were fortunate that it did not touch the ground.

Two years ago I decided I did not feel like cooking so I suggested fast food. It is really an extravagance because we have to drive about 25 miles to get it.

I was watching a nasty looking sky as I drove. I saw what looked like it could turn into a funnel cloud. It was huge but quite a distance from us.

I gave the order at the speaker for the meals we wanted. When I pulled up to the window they informed me that we were the last customers they were serving because of the tornado that was on its way. The tornado did not make it as far as the fast food place after all. But it did some serious damage in Pilger, Nebraska. Pilger is quite a ways away.

There have been numerous tornadoes all around where I live. I have seen the results of several of them. I am fortunate because I live in a small town that is kind of nestled into the hills. The hills provide a lot of protection.

Still I pay attention to the watches and warnings. I would rather be safe than to be flying toward Oz.


  1. I've had some interesting encounters with tornadoes, too. It's part of the middle of the country.

  2. Frightening stories!
    Although it's not common for us to have tornadoes in Brazil, sometimes they appear in the south of the country.
    I remember that when I was a child, my mother had just finished cleaning the house when suddenly a strong wind started hauling. It took part of our roof away, and a heavy rain fell. The house was all completely drenched, and I was so scared...

    1. That is a scary story. I am happy that you were not hurt.

  3. Tornadoes are not to be taken lightly! You have had some very close calls and I'm glad you've never experienced a tragedy from a tornado.
    We lived in Oklahoma City a long time ago, for a year. I remember our plane not being able to land due to 'small twisters' and I remember huddling in the centre closet when a big twister was in the neighbourhood. Several years later we sat out a tornado in the basement of our house in central Ontario. The tornado took two lives and did a tremendous amount of damage. I'd been sitting outside with the neighbours, and when I saw the sky I thought of Oklahoma and told everyone we'd better get in the basement. When we came out the shingles were off everyone's roof.

    1. It is good that you remembered the way the sky looked and had time to take cover. It can be a scary feeling because there is really nothing you can do except take cover and hope for the best.

  4. Luckily, we have never experienced any of these storms and thankfully none of our family or friends have as well. It always amazes me to see photos of a tornado's aftermath where a neighborhood can be decimated, yet a house or more left intact on another street or even the same street.

    1. One farm near here had to replace part of the roof on the house and one side of the garage after a tornado 2 years ago. The rest of the place was untouched. Damage from a tornado is often puzzling.