Thursday, May 15, 2008

Who's overreacting now?

Here in South, we see a lot of bad thunderstorms in the spring. We have been under tornado warnings multiple times in the last couple of months and I am not one to freak out because there is a rainstorm ten miles away. In fact, I used to storm chase as part of research projects at MyUniversity. Of course my feelings on the subject have changed since I have become a parent and a homeowner and I would much rather admire storms from a distance than my front porch. Or the inside of a closet under the stairs, like last night.

The weather guys interrupted SuperNanny last night to tell us that our county was under a tornado warning. I fired up the radar, and sure enough there was a nice storm to our west, close to my parents' lake house, that looked sort of capable of producing a tornado, at least on radar. I called my parents and made sure they were here and not at the lake house and settled in to watch some more SuperNanny. Then one of my weather friends called and said "Hey, have you seen the radar? I just wanted to make sure you weren't at the mall or something." We talked for a few minutes about other stuff and I said I'd keep an eye on things, but was pretty unconcerned because the storm looked to be weakening, at least on radar.

Then I flipped the TV back on and saw that while the storm didn't look great, it looked good enough, and the most dangerous part of it was headed right for us. I did a quick inventory of the pros and cons of getting Charlie into the closet under the stairs and decided that waking him up and taking the chance that he wouldn't go back to sleep for a while and looking like a crazy hormonal freak to Ryan was well worth the potential benefits of not being swept away by a tornado (I mean how idiotic would it look if those five years of studying WIND in grad school didn't move me to protect my own family?).

I laid some blankets on the floor of the closet under the stairs and turned out all the lights then went and got Charlie out of his crib. Ryan continued to calmly clean the bathtub like "Whatever, come get me when the roof flies off". I laid Charlie on the blankets in the closet, gave him a pacifier and Phent and curled up next to him, hoping he'd go back to sleep. Ten minutes later Ryan came in with Rossby and closed the door and said "The warning said that radar indicated potential for a tornado one mile southeast of (geographical landmark approximately one mile northwest of our house)" OH SUPER!! We could hear hail slamming against our windows, it sounded HUGE. I heard another loud noise which I know now was our back screen door swinging wildly in the wind (the piston and one of the hinges are bent) and our patio furniture banging against the back of the house.

I turned on the little black and white TV we keep in the storm closet. The weather was on and they were showing a radar image of our storm. It had become significantly more organized in the last twenty minutes since I had looked at it. The hook (where the tornado would likely form if there was one) was well defined and RIGHT OVER OUR NEIGHBORHOOD (I talked to Dr. Advisor, who was out chasing in the area, later and he called the hook "meaty" and the storm "a beast." Words that formerly made me really excited but now make me a feel a little sick, like when we realized where Hurricane Katrina was going to make landfall and suddenly the science was irrelevant and all you could say was "no no no no no no"). The reporter said over and over "If you are in this neighborhood you need to take tornado precautions right now." We stared, riveted, at the radar image as the most dangerous part of the storm passed right over our heads.

The storm finally passed without producing a tornado, thank goodness, and Charlie went back to bed easily, thank goodness.

Aside from the broken screen door and displaced patio furniture, the wind blew our back gate open and, not realizing it, when we let our dog out this morning he got out. I don't know where he is and I hope someone nice finds him and brings him home. If you saw a crazy pregnant woman running down the street with a stroller yelling "Rossby! Come here Rossby!" this morning around 7:45, then we are probably neighbors.

UPDATE: Rossby has been recovered! I was driving to meet a friend for lunch and he was in someone's yard a few blocks away. I opened the passenger door of my car and he jumped right in. He's really dirty and smelly but he's OK. What a relief!

UPDATE 2: I've asked around and most people in my neighborhood woke their kids up and hid under their stairs from the storm (except for the guy across the street from us who was playing Guitar Hero the whole time, aside: we both need to get some blinds). One of my neighbors was in there with her husband, two kids, two large golden retrievers, a cat, and all of their Christmas decorations. I have been validated!

11 comments:

My Buddy Mimi said...

Sounds scary! So glad everything turned out OK.

The closest I have ever been to a tornado was in St. Paul, and I lived on the 9th floor of a highrise building with a view of the river. We stood in the dark by the floor-to-ceiling windows and watched the outline of the tornado (which never actually touched down) appear over the river each time the lightning flashed. I'm pretty sure that is not what you are supposed to do during a tornado warning...

Sarah said...

Ooooh scary!! I HATE tornado season-- especially in this house, where the lowest level is not very low, and our basement storage is full of potentially dangerous flying objects. I'm going to make sure my weahter radio has batteries right after I type this!!

I hpe your dog comes home soon.

Shannon said...

Wow Becca! I'm glad your experience with wind science and your experience with motherhood seem to be well balanced! It's also nice to have friends and advisors who still keep an eye on things and look out for you. I do hope Rossby comes home soon!

Steph said...

Oh, no! Come back, Rossby!

Leslie said...

Yikes! Glad everyone is OK. I'm sure Rossby will turn up soon, he's got a pretty sweet life.

Liz said...

This whole post I was just imagining you as Helen Hunt and your husband as what's-his-name...

And...YOU HAVE YOUR OWN RADAR? (Is it named Dorothy?)

(glad everything is safe)

sarah said...

Terrifying! I still cannot watch Twister w/o having a panic attack. I am terrified of Mother Nature when she's pissed.

So glad you're all okay and that your pooch came home!!

Anonymous said...

I would have done the same thing! I had seven heart attacks when you said Ross was missing, but thank goodness he's home!

Remember that time we accidentaly drove into that tornado on the way back from BR? Ha!

godmother

mbc said...

Love this post....I've been reading for a while (your mom sent it) and thoroughly enjoying. I can relate to this post--we're not far and did clean out a closet--but didn't wake the 2 year old.

Kyla said...

You have radar? Ha!

Glad the storm passed over without event. Ack, though. So very scary.

LL said...

Holy crap! We had some bad storms growing up in Houston and I remember a couple big ones in college. I loved them then, feeling all cozy inside the house and thought getting in a storm closet was one big adventure (the idea of destruction coming along with a storm didn't occur to me then).

It would be very different now.