IT'S HERE!!!!! And I have to say....it doesn't suck! Well....it could actually make more of an entrance....but even though it hasn't been showy so far....it is still HERE! If you are from the Midwest especially from about Nebraska to Texas then you know what I am referring to. OR...maybe you don't. What I am talking about is.....storm season. I am crazy you say?! Well...perhaps, but if you have lived in this region for any amount of time....you know that come the end of March, your skin gets all tingly and your pulse increases every time you hear the words: thunderstorm, tornado, watch and warning. You simply can't help yourself. Now for transplants to this part of this world who are novices in cloud to ground lightening, torrential rain, thunder so loud it could wake the dead and yes......tornado's, this whole concept might actually be terrifying to you, but not to us who actually live for this time of year.
Growing up in Kansas....I have thus far lived through some of the most horrendous tornado's that Tornado Alley and Mother Nature can throw at us. I lived through Andover and also Haysville. I lived through the tornado that lifted my friend Chris's house off its foundation and left it scattered in fields for miles around and I have also lived through many not so notable storms that could have been just as damaging, but for the grace of God....weren't.
As a kid growing up in this part of the world, storm season although not without its obvious deadly danger is also a very exciting time of year. As early as mid March even at times with snow still on the ground and temperatures frigidly cold, the preparations for the season begin. School kids become familiar with tornado drills and advertisements on local tv stations start telling us about the locations for regular Storm Spotter meetings. Towns and cities begin weekly storm siren alerts to make sure all sirens are in working order. From oldest to youngest, you start to feel the excitement of the season. Then....as temperatures start to fluxuate and both the temps and the humidity begin to rise and the barometric pressure becomes unstable, you almost get an insatiable yearning for those first claps of thunder and those first flashes of electricity from the sky.
Again....I know to some....this sounds crazy and no....I am not down playing the deadly potential of such storms. As I said, I have first hand seen the aftermath of what these storms can conjure and leave in their wake. For all their intense beauty (and yes...they are beautiful) they can leave death and total destruction in the matter of just a few moments. Their power is incredible and before you know it....what once was can be gone within seconds.
So how can you feel such excitement, awe and yes fear all at the same time? I guess it is a Midwest thing. I have spent many springs just waiting for those storms. It is as if it builds up a tension inside you that is not released until you see the electricity lighting the sky and hear the constant roar of thunder. Around here many of us stay glued to our radio KFDI if you are in my area, tv radar or our weather radio's. And now....with newer technology....we have weather apps on our phone that keep us apprised of where the storms are and when they will hit. For those of us though, who have lived through more seasons than we would like to admit, no weather forecast is necessary to tell us when the air is ripe and the potential for storms and even tornado's is upon us. You can feel the sultry heat and stillness in the air. Everywhere you go....you will hear people say..."It sure feels like storms today!" And we are usually not wrong.
In my life I have stood and looked up to the sky and watched tornado's form right above me. I have watched the tails begin to spin and come slowly out of the clouds and then pull back up....doing this dance several times until either they pull back in the clouds and stay there or begin to form something much stronger than a tail which will eventually touch the ground and potentially cause untold damage. As a kid we had a sky light in our station wagon and one day after being out with my mom, the sirens went off. Mom drove like a crazy woman trying to make it home as the radio was reporting tornado's being spotted in the city (we lived in Wichita at the time.) I remember looking up above us through the skylight to see not one but two tails hanging from the clouds. You could see both twisting and spinning, dancing up and down. I screamed at the sight and Mom looked up and nearly wrecked the wagon. She floored it and got us home and to the basement just as it passed over our neighborhood. We could hear the loud roar that sounded like a hundred trains traveling through our house. Mom fully expected to go upstairs and find nothing but rubble. Much to our surprise the storm damage was exterior (roofs, fences, lawn furniture) but the houses had stayed in tact. Unfortunately....a few blocks over homes and buildings had not survived as well. It was a near miss, but I will never forget the excitement of that day and the adrenaline rush even as a seven or eight year old.
My mother....growing up on a farm in Oklahoma was no stranger to tornado's and having kids, they held a certain terrifying aspect that only a parent responsible for children can know. Each storm season we had a storm kit prepared (candles, matches, band aids, rosaries and holy water) and Mom kept an extra set of clothes, shoes and heavy coats in the basement just in case. Why heavy coats? Because many times after a tornado, the air is quite cold....at least for a little while. Especially if hail is involved. When sirens went off....we were rushed to the basement and placed "securely" under the pool table. Then Mom would leave us and go stand on the porch and watch the storm. For all her fear for our lives....the storm was just too big a draw for her not to watch. I just knew a tornado would hit and she would go flying away and we would be left alone....under the pool table.
I think Mom was a bit of an adrenaline junky where storms were concerned too. However....she knew the need for protection and it is fairly easy to watch a storm approaching if you know you have a basement just feet away. She also knew that others were not so lucky, so wherever we lived that had a basement....Mom always had an open door policy. If the sirens went off.....our front door was unlocked and anyone was welcome to come in and use our basement. All the neighbors knew it and there were times when we lived in El Dorado that there was standing room only in our tiny dugout cellar. Mom didn't care though. She had at times lived without a basement or storm cellar and she knew all too well the fear of trying to find a safe place in a not so proverbial storm.
Yes...this time of year, storms can be deadly and no one around here forgets that, but they can also be exhilarating, breath taking, exciting and just the ticket to get us out of the winter blues that seemed to have over stayed their welcome this year. Sadly...this morning is just a bit too cool for a good storm, but who knows...if the sun came out and worked a little temperature magic, tonight might just be the storm I have been longing for.