Yesterday, I washed my cell phone. After one day of being without it, I knew a replacement was necessary when I had to borrow the Diva’s phone twice. We, the Diva, Bear and I, were in OKC for dental appointments. Afterward, at 4:30 p.m., we went to a comic book store, and were headed to Bear’s indoor batting practice and the T-Mobile phone store in Edmond.
It was raining hard, and I was concentrating on keeping my bus in my lane, when I heard a noise. With the rain drumming a staccato on the roof, I cracked a window and asked the Diva if she heard it. A moment later, we realized the wail came from sirens. Tornado sirens.
The tornado sirens always surprise us because, out where we live, there aren’t any. We watch a lot of the History Channel, and I swear, the tornado sirens sound like the ones used in England during the London Blitz. I always have this desire to shade my eyes and search the sky for bombs.
Instead, I turned on the radio. During storm season, many of the radio stations broadcast the weather from the three local television stations. I got Gary England, of KWTV Channel 9. He said a tornado was on the ground in the Bethany area. That was south and west of us, so I breathed a sigh of relief. You do not want to be in a car when a tornado is nearby unless you’re David Payne (a meteorologist on KFOR known for tornado chasing.) Get out the popcorn. Watching him is high drama.
Red Dirt Nana (my mom) lives near Bethany, so the Diva tried calling her. I kept driving, my eyes squinting through the curtain of pouring rain. The cellular network was so busy that it took eight tries to reach her. Nana said the track of the storm was headed toward us. I mashed harder on the gas.
We went to our regular destination. Home was still far away, and with most tornadoes, a block or two, and you’re out of their path. Also, according to Gary E., the thunderstorm was lessening in intensity.
At the phone store, the girls wanted to wait in the car. The Diva was studying for finals. Bear had her Jughead comics. I opened my umbrella and fought the wind and rain as I crossed the parking lot. Halfway there, Edmond’s sirens began blaring.
I ran back to the car, grabbed the girls, and ran inside the store, which was in a strip mall. Not the best place to be hanging out if a tornado is coming. The assistant manager, the manager and the district manager were all in the store. Odd, but I never got to ask why. At first, no one was worried. Tornado sirens go off automatically if conditions are right for tornado development, and if the area is in a tornado warning. That pretty much covers the entire state during any large thunderstorm in spring.
I was picking out a phone when all of the employees’ phones started ringing. We were told a tornado was truly headed our way. The district manager ushered us all into the middle hallway (a central location,) and we waited. Blackberries were in evidence everywhere, but no one could get through. The system was busy.
Bear was frightened. The Diva and I were calm, but I suggested we turn on a radio. They didn’t have a radio except through their phones. Sheesh! Were we addicted to these things or what? I waited a moment or two for the network to clear and asked for the Diva’s phone. I called HH at home and requested a weather report. He was watching Channel 5, KOCO TV.
Meanwhile, the store manager went to the front of the store.
“We’ll be fine,” said an employee, “Our manager is a meteorologist.”
A meteorologist? Managing a T-Mobile Store?
Only in Oklahoma.
My first thought was “Why?” The second was “What good would that do?” Meteorologists predict the weather. The can’t control it. And, right then, the highly paid ones on television couldn’t agree whether there were tornadoes or not, nor where they were.
After a moment or two, HH told me the “large, wind gusts, not tornadoes” had passed us by. The gust front was at I-35 and Covell (north and east of us.)
I told everyone, and moments later, after their blackberries came to life, we were let out of the hallway. I bought my phone, and the girls and I returned home to our boys, safe and sound with a good story to tell.
The garden wasn’t too bad either. These photos show my peonies before and after the storm, a little bedraggled, but still hanging in there.