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Scary weather

 
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It's tornado season in the Midwest. What have been your close encounter experiences?

I seem to be a tornado magnet and have many experiences to tell about, in no particular order.

1) I was driving back from a college class and the sky looked bad. I looked to one side and saw a good sized funnel, which prompted me to start speeding, in my search for cover. I got to the mall (not the best choice), jumped out of the car and ran as fast as I could, making it inside a split second before it hit. As I quickly made my way toward the back of the building, in the direction away from where the tornado was coming, tons of people rushed toward the doors where it was coming from so they could watch. Bad decision. The emergency broadcast alert was sounding, etc. Sounded like a train right above us. Nobody got hurt and there was only minor damage anywhere.

2) A few years ago, I was shopping for a few quick purchases and the emergency siren sounded on everybody's phones. Frequently, these things never actually amount to anything, but people were panicking and running to the registers and some out the doors. I was calm and paid for my stuff. I found that it really was bad, as the rain was whipping the downpour into sheets of water and I could barely see my vehicle. Decided it was better to take the side streets instead of the major highway where everybody else was going, which was actually the smartest decision I made that day. Making my way through the back way, I saw people in their yards watching the menacing sky, some crying. I did see the funnel and wasn't wasting any time. I had two choices: find a place to hole up and wait it out or make a run for it which meant my vehicle could be picked up and hurled into oblivion. I chose to run, because my dog was home alone and I wanted to get him to the basement.

This was a mighty storm, folks. I was doing 75 in a 45 zone and a cop was parked along the road with lights on. The lights were to try to prevent anybody from driving into the storm's path (behind me by now...I hoped). People were stopped in a loooong line on a busy 4-lane waiting for that thing to pass. My philosophy at that particular time was that any cop that was keen on writing me a speeding ticket would need to be prepared to do so in my basement because I had zero intention of stopping or even slowing down til I was home.

I made it and went inside and grabbed my camera, as the storm was awesomely beautiful. I watched in horror as a funnel started coming down a few yards away over a different highway, as there was a car headed right for it and I couldn't do anything to warn them. They saw it and did the fastes u-turn I'd ever seen lol!

Nobody got hurt, thank God, but it had the adrenaline pumping overtime.

3) before we were married, the time for our date was approaching and I waited anxiously for my date (now husband) to come pick me up. The anxiety came from observing the green-tinted swirling clouds and listening to the forecast. He arrived a bit late and he decided he wanted to drive around and watch the clouds. I very reluctantly agreed to go. Long story short, we ended up parked at the edge of town near a large pasture. Eerie quiet set the scene as we watched what I can only describe as clouds forming in a circle near the ground. We all know what that was, don't we? We beat it out of there and raced across town to a friend's house that had a basement. She had company and the storm wasn't actually doing anything at the moment, so we just parked across the road from her house and watched it. Directly above us, the greenish clouds swirled. Several years later, I found a post on the internet made by a storm chaser. Same place, same date. I printed off copies of those pictures. We were very, very lucky that day.

4) my husband is a bit braver than I. We were about 40 minutes from home and at a car dealership. I didn't like how the sky looked or the general "feel" of things and grew a bit concerned. I turned on the radio in the truck while my husband was inside the dealership. The announcer was saying to take immediate cover if you were in that town. I prepared to go get my husband just as he came back out. I told him we needed to leave immediately, but he wasn't concerned. Yeah, well we did make a run for home and the storm dogged us half of that jouney. Turns out that this tornado took out half of the homes in a small town that we went through, just after we went through it. It damaged many other homes in other small towns as well. Yikes.

5) I once worked in a small factory in what the locals call the tornado strip, because storms generally went through that part of that town. A tornado completely destroyed the section of the factory where I worked. Destroyed. History. Gone. It destroyed several houses down to their foundations too. Luckily, this was at night when nobody except the security guards were there, and they had sense enough not to be upstairs when it hit.

I have more, but I'm gonna stop with these for now. Gotta get some stuff done.

So, do you have any tornado experiences you want to share?
 
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In May of 2011 the storm that produced the f-5 tornado that did major damage in Joplin, MO passed over my town. In July of 2020 I was sitting in my den on the computer and saw on the radar a big red dot. It was moving south and the storm hit the town with high winds and two inch hail. Two houses had trees go through them. The odd thing about this storm was the damage. I had major tree damage and the house to the south of me did not. It took two weeks to clean up the town and many houses still have not recovered from the storm.
 
M James
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T Blankinship wrote:In May of 2011 the storm that produced the f-5 tornado that did major damage in Joplin, MO passed over my town. In July of 2020 I was sitting in my den on the computer and saw on the radar a big red dot. It was moving south and the storm hit the town with high winds and two inch hail. Two houses had trees go through them. The odd thing about this storm was the damage. I had major tree damage and the house to the south of me did not. It took two weeks to clean up the town and many houses still have not recovered from the storm.



Joplin was a really bad deal. I feel so sorry for their community.

Two inch hail is very impressive. Hail that isn't even that bad can do lethal damage.

Tornadoes are puzzling things. There can be two houses side by side, with one totaled and the other untouched. Very unpredictable.

Glad you are ok, and thanks for sharing.
 
pollinator
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This wasn't a tornado, but it was definitely scary weather!

A few years back, Wisconsin decided to go from "winter" to "summer" with very little in-between. The heat was bad enough that I switched to a nocturnal schedule in order to get my planting done without heat stroke.

My farm doesn't have a house on it yet, so I live an hour away with relatives. On the evening in question, I set out for the farm just after sunset to try and get my corn planted. I knew there was rain expected the next day, but this particular night was supposed to be cloudy but dry.

I remember as I drove, seeing flashes of color reflecting off the cloud cover. It looked like there was one heck of a fireworks display going on, but the origin was just past the horizon where I couldn't see. Small towns often have their own holidays, and while I was curious at how intense this particular display seemed to be, and how long it was lasting, I was mainly focused on my mission.

Most of my route took me through the valleys, but there was one intersection that was located at a high spot. As I crested the hill, I came face-to-face with something I have never seen before and pray I never see again.

There was no fireworks display. Instead, there was a solid wall of multicolored lightning barreling straight towards me! Colors I never knew lightning was capable of being! An electrical storm that looked like it was made in a freaking Skittles factory!!!

And I swear, that thing saw me, and turned straight toward my truck.

Needless to say, I noped out of there as fast as I could go! Went home and unplugged everything I could unplug, checked supplies in the tornado corner of the basement, and waited for it the storm to follow me.

It never turned north. The next day there were vague reports of a storm that hit a small stretch of land, but petered out after a few miles. And the area that it struck was so sparsely populated that it barely got mentioned.

I'm really glad it didn't hurt anybody. At the same time, I will never forget the feeling of a wall of technicolor lightning looking at me like that.
 
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I don't have any tornado stories to tell other than I was at home twice when we had a small one.  Blew the turbines off the house and wrapped things around trees.

One of the best places to go in the event you are caught out in one or have a chance to get to a hospital.  I've spent many tornado events at our local hospital. The cafeteria is a good place to buy some snacks and chill out.
 
M James
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Ellendra, wow, I've never even heard of that before! I'd have had to change my pants after that LOL!
 
M James
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Anne Miller wrote:I don't have any tornado stories to tell other than I was at home twice when we had a small one.  Blew the turbines off the house and wrapped things around trees.

One of the best places to go in the event you are caught out in one or have a chance to get to a hospital.  I've spent many tornado events at our local hospital. The cafeteria is a good place to buy some snacks and chill out.



That's probably one of the last places I'd want to be in a tornado event. I've had to ride out some pretty bad storms in one because my mother was severely handicapped and had issues. Basically all they did was pick and choose which patients got to go to the basement and which had to remain on the main floor. They were going to make mom wait til almost everybody else got moved to a supposedly safe place. I asked for a wheelchair and got her to the hallway myself. They wouldn't let us go to the basement. Guess we didn't count as important enough...

Big buildings with large expanses of roof aren't good choices, in my opinion.

One more I forgot to tell.

I had been at a town 20 minutes from home getting a haircut. My husband was away and due to come through that town on his way back home at around the time I was getting done with the haircut. As I started for home, the sky got more and more menacing. Seconds after I got on the "on ramp", the storm started to hit. While I was watching off to my right, there was something awful forming ahead of me. As soon as I looked ahead, there it was. A little funnel...it was moving very fast...and I actually passed it in the freaking median!!! It was violently sucking up trash and other debris from the median and making it disappear. It may have been a little funnel, but it definitely wasn't a dust devil, I guarantee you that!

I hung onto the wheel with both hands as I went by. Then the rain was coming down so hard I had to slow way down cause I couldn't see very good. I wanted to call my husband to warn him to hole up someplace til it passed but I couldn't see the road well enough to pull over. When I got to the off ramp to go to our town I called him and caught him in time.

That was waaaay too close!!
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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M James wrote:Ellendra, wow, I've never even heard of that before! I'd have had to change my pants after that LOL!




I'm kind of amazed I didn't have to!

My arms were cramped up for 2 days afterward, just from gripping the steering wheel so hard.

There's a photo going around that shows the same intensity as the storm I saw, although it doesn't have the same range of colors:



Coming nose-to-nose with that is an experience I hope I never repeat!
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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Found a picture of multicolored lightning, although I'm not sure if it was photoshopped:

 
M James
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:

M James wrote:Ellendra, wow, I've never even heard of that before! I'd have had to change my pants after that LOL!




I'm kind of amazed I didn't have to!

My arms were cramped up for 2 days afterward, just from gripping the steering wheel so hard.

There's a photo going around that shows the same intensity as the storm I saw, although it doesn't have the same range of colors:



Coming nose-to-nose with that is an experience I hope I never repeat!



Oh my goodness!! I'm impressed for sure. I can only imagine how scared you were. So glad you came out of that experience unharmed.

Looks very surreal. I've been looking at lightning since forever and never seen that kind of thing. Wow.
 
Anne Miller
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M James said "That's probably one of the last places I'd want to be in a tornado event. I've had to ride out some pretty bad storms in one because my mother was severely handicapped and had issues. Basically all they did was pick and choose which patients got to go to the basement and which had to remain on the main floor.



I am sorry you had such a bad experience.  I have never been in a hospital when they moved the patients.  That would be really scary.

I worked with a lady whose daughter-in-law had been in a tornado. Every time there was a threat of a tornado she would load up quilts and head to a ditch under an underpass. She would sometimes be there for hours. I just never could imagine doing that.
 
M James
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Anne Miller wrote:

M James said "That's probably one of the last places I'd want to be in a tornado event. I've had to ride out some pretty bad storms in one because my mother was severely handicapped and had issues. Basically all they did was pick and choose which patients got to go to the basement and which had to remain on the main floor.



I am sorry you had such a bad experience.  I have never been in a hospital when they moved the patients.  That would be really scary.

I worked with a lady whose daughter-in-law had been in a tornado. Every time there was a threat of a tornado she would load up quilts and head to a ditch under an underpass. She would sometimes be there for hours. I just never could imagine doing that.



Tornado-wise the hospital ones were the worst experiences, because I feared for mom's safety.

That poor lady must've been sooo traumatised by that tornado to go to those extremes when one threatens. Wish she could live where there is a basement or tornado shelter.
 
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I had some business to conduct in Joplin a year or two after the tornado.  The town looked like it had been nuked.

Even though I live in the path of the Tri-State Tornado, I haven’t had any serious involvement with one. My worse experience was when I pulled my car off the road at a low point and it was lifted up and set down several times. Oddly, it really didnt bother me at the time.
 
M James
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John F Dean wrote:I had some business to conduct in Joplin a year or two after the tornado.  The town looked like it had been nuked.

Even though I live in the path of the Tri-State Tornado, I haven’t had any serious involvement with one. My worse experience was when I pulled my car off the road at a low point and it was lifted up and set down several times. Oddly, it really didnt bother me at the time.



That would be terrifying. Glad you weren't hurt. You were very lucky
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