I hate tornadoes. They are beautiful to behold, but the thought of being in one terrifies me. Unfortunately, tis’ the season for the twisters.
I have always been afraid of these powerful storms. It all started when I was around 8 years old. We had an old set of encylopedias, and I would sometimes thumb through and look at the pictures and read interesting articles.
One day, I read the “T” section, and I came across these terrible pictures of tornadoes and tornado damage. It was horrific. As I read about the power and destruction of these whirlwinds, I was terrified. I developed a “fear” of tornadoes at that point.
Oddly enough, this fear continued into my adult years. Whenever we were placed under a tornado watch, I would be tense all day. Whenever a severe storm would hit, I was usually on pins and needles until it passed. The thought of this barreling through my house just doesn’t seem pleasant:
I actually enjoy calm thunderstorms, but the high winds, hail, and threat of tornadoes make me uneasy.
My Tornado Close Call
So this past Saturday, we were once again under a tornado watch. It was hot and muggy outside, and I knew there was going to be a good chance of getting strong thunderstorms. Since I am always on alert on days like this, I was keeping an eye on the weather radar.
About 4:00 pm, I noticed a nasty line of thunderstorms was heading straight towards our area. Since I had to pick my wife up for work, I made the decision to leave early so I could avoid driving in these storms. So I left and headed to the hospital where my wife works.
Right when I got there, the storms hit. I watched the storms through the window inside the hospital. There was a huge gust of wind, which was strong enough to knock down a light pole in the parking lot. The pole landed 10 feet away from my car.
Then I hear on the intercom a “code torro” which is hospital talk for “tornado.” I checked my laptop, and sure enough we were under a tornado warning. Not only that, but the radar was indicating rotation right over the city where my house is. Yikes! I then saw what I believe to be a weakening funnel cloud, which was twisting and changing shape rapidly, which is right where a lot of damage took place.
It turns out we got an EF1 tornado in my county. It was about 100-150 yards wide, and stayed on the ground for a couple of miles. Luckily, it only trashed some barns, tore down some signs, damaged some roofs, and some other minor damage. No one was seriously injured or killed (thankfully).
Don’t let anyone sell you the old myth that tornadoes don’t happen in mountains. It doesn’t get much more mountainous than East Tennessee. We have hills and mountains all around my county.
My house wasn’t hit, but did sustain some damage from hail. I was told large hail hit this area while I was gone. It cracked our siding in about 4 or 5 places. We also had flash flooding everywhere in the county.
In any event, this has sold me on building a tornado safe room in my basement. I hope to start building either later this summer, or this fall. Tornado safe rooms are rooms made to specifically withstand the high winds and debris that occur during tornadoes. The apparently work quite well, as I have been looking at safe rooms online, and some houses are literally leveled, and the only thing standing is the safe room.
In my opinion, everyone should have a storm shelter. It is just common safety practice. Since this is severe weather season (at least here in the U.S.), just remember to keep an eye on the weather when you have a warning or watch. Get to a basement or interior room, and pray!
Hey everyone. I have been busy, busy, busy! I apologize if I haven’t posted quite as much on the forum and blog. I thought it was time to give an update on the many things I have been doing lately. So here we go…
Tornadoes Hit My Area AGAIN!
In the post above, I talked about how I was almost in a tornado. Well, just a week or so later, we had the most severe tornado outbreak in the history of our area! It was the 2nd largest tornado outbreak in the history of the United States. Wow.
A total of 3 tornadoes have now been confirmed to have touched in my county. 4 tornadoes hit the county to the west of my county. Most of them were EF2-EF3 intensity (which is pretty strong). One was almost 1 mile WIDE, and stayed on the ground for several miles.
People, I live in the mountains of good ole Tennessee. Don’t ever be fooled by the myth that tornadoes don’t happen in mountainous areas. They do. They aren’t as common here as they are in Florida or Kansas, but they do happen. It has been a wake-up call to people around here for sure.
Anyway, my wife and I (and our families) were all blessed to have avoided any damage or death whatsoever. Others weren’t so blessed, and some fatalities did occur. Some people have lost their entire homes. It is very sad, but it is also wonderful seeing the whole community come together (businesses, radio stations, and individuals have really come together to help), and things are slowly getting back to normal.
Needless to say, I was a little worried on that day when the meteorologists kept saying “potential for tornadoes”, and I had a gut feeling we would get a tornado. I was right. Sometimes I hate being right.
Okay, sorry about the delay in my post series. I promise to get out at least 2 more posts in this series today (not including this short post), and at least 2-3 tomorrow as well. I hope to wrap this up within the next week or two. It takes a really long time to write everything (an hour or two per post), so I am trying desparately to balance everything here.
Before I continued this post series, I wanted to share a couple of pictures I snapped.
More Severe Thunderstorms on Thursday
This is my 3rd post regarding severe storms and tornadoes this year. I have had some VERY close calls with tornadoes this year, and even some hail damage to my siding. It is pretty typical every spring to get severe storms in most areas of the U.S. However, this year has been particularly dramatic and far above average (especially for our area). There have been record numbers of tornadoes and deaths in many areas, and the season isn’t over yet.
So on this past Thursday, we had a severe thunderstorm watch over our area. A severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are favorable for severe storms to develop throughout the day.
I LOVE calm thunderstorms, but I absolutely LOATHE severe storms, and specifically, tornadoes. They just freak me out, and these news stories (and pictures) of devastation and death don’t help.
Anyway, I was keeping an eye on the radar periodically throughout the day. I noticed a strong storm heading towards our area. I noticed that it had been prompting severe thunderstorm warnings in the counties just before us, so my wife and I were anticipating that we would probably get one. The good news is that the worst of the storm was missing us, and was only going to pass just along the edge of our area.
Pictures of a Severe Thunderstorm (Supercell)
So at first, the storm was pretty dark, but nothing major as it approached. Then, the storm appeared to be strengthening. Here is what it looked like at first. You can see a really cool “shelf cloud” which makes the cool rim of the storm’s edge. This picture was taken from the back of my deck:
This was definitely fascinating, and the lightning and thunder was also impressive (although my wife couldn’t seem to capture a pic of the lightning). As I sat watching this, I checked the weather channel and they had placed our county under a severe thunderstorm warning. My wife and I stood on our back deck watching this, as we knew it was going to miss us for the most part.
As the storm kept creeping northeast (moving towards the right of this picture), my wife and I noticed that it seemed like it was getting thicker and darker. Then, I noticed it looked like the storm itself was slightly rotating, and the clouds were doing some freaky looking things. Then, this is what it looked like after a couple more minutes:
All day long, most of our area had been under severe thunderstorm warnings, but there really hadn’t been many tornado warnings at all. But as I sat looking at this creeping by my house (and thank goodness it missed us), I said to my wife:
You know what babe, I swear that looks like a wall cloud at the bottom of the storm. This thing looks like it could almost form a tornado at any minute.
So guess what happened a minute later? Tornado warning!! They issued a tornado warning over top of the severe thunderstorm warning– saying that doppler radar had indicated rotation in the storm. That’s right, you are staring at a possible tornado in formation here, with what looks like a well defined wall cloud at the base of the cloud (which is the part where the tornado drops out), and a shelf cloud around the edge of the storm.
This storm went on to prompt tornado warnings for a huge area of northeast TN and southwest Virginia. The good news is that it doesn’t appear that a tornado actually touched down, however, it was confirmed that a funnel cloud had been spotted by several weather spotters/meterologists.
Ugh, I will be so glad when all this severe weather stuff is over for a while. It seems recently that tornado warnings happen more than my phone rings. But it was a very neat experience being able to see this storm forming what could have been a tornado. Very cool pictures in my opinion!
Get a NOAA Weather Radio For Safety
One thing I plan to get within the next year is a weather radio. Weather radios are cool because they can be battery powered (in case the power goes out), and you can program them to alert you to severe weather warnings for your particular county. This is especially useful if you go to sleep and want to be notified in case a tornado comes crashing through at midnight.
Amazon.com has some pretty good deals on them here, and many of them come with free shipping. So if you are getting hammered with severe weather too (like I am), then you may also want to invest in one of these too. And when you buy from my link, I get a tiny commission =).
Okay, now I will get back into the next post in my hives saga…