The calm after the storm . . . .
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.
mss @ Zanthan Gardens
I was thinking about you when I heard about the storms on the evening news. Glad you made it through. These storms can get serious so quickly. I like your weather map in the sidebar.
Thanks, MSS. The storm that tore through Picher was one of those that came out of nowhere. Those and the nighttime wrapped in rain ones are the scariest. My heart goes out to the poor folks in Picher. First, they were a Super Fund site because of the chat placed on the country roads. Then, they were hit by a tornado.~~Dee
We were both doing the tornado dodging dance. After my cell phone fiasco and no service, I made me an emergency kit. I have a battery powered radio now. I guess you got to go back in time if you want reliability.
I’m glad you are OK. And we had the same weird thing too. It was hard for the meterologist to tell if and when it became a tornado cause of all the cross winds. We had the worst electrical storm with this one too. I guess we are in for a rough Spring and Summer. I hate to be away from home when these things happen.
Anna, we were. So glad you a okay. An emergency kit is a great thing to have. I once wrote a three part article about those. Do I have one? No. BTW, I love your posts on Proven Winners.~~Dee
Dang, just reading about that was a harrowing experience, Dee! The peonies still look great to me … we can’t grow them so even bedraggled from a storm, I’m enchanted by them! Glad y’all made it home safely. We had a tornado come through just blocks away from us back in the early 90s. It hit the house of some friends while their 2 kids were napping upstairs. The kids were fine, thank goodness, but the tornado lifted the roof off the house & set it back down askew. There was quite a bit of damage to the house and it was a sobering sight for all of us and a real lesson in the power of nature.
Sorry, Cindy. I’m sorry you can’t grow the peonies. They are a favorite of mine. They give my garden a cottagey feel. Thanks for visiting.~~Dee
Mr. McGregor's Daughter
Your story highlights the problem of when to sound the siren. Too often & people ignore it, not enough & people don’t have enough warning. It’s a tightrope for the NOAA folks. Around here we take the sirens seriously because we’re not as tornado-prone. When one forms, it’s coming. I’m glad the worst of it missed you & your garden. I’ve decided I want a single-flowered peony, as my double always looks so pathetic after the slightest rain, much worse than yours after your storm day.
MMD, go for it. I have a Japanese Anemone style peony that I really love. I bought all of my doubles first, and now I’m branching out. As to the sirens, you are exactly right.~~Dee
I”m glad you’re all okay; I have absolutely no experience with tornadoes outside of the Weather Channel. New England certainly gets weather but nothing like a tornado. (clicking my heels and saying “there’s no place like home…”) no kidding! I hope you don’t get too many tornadoes this season. Stay safe.
Margo, the season will wind down soon once it gets really hot.~~Dee
What a scare! I cant imagine what it must have been like. We are very lucky here in the Uk that we dont have this but you should see how stressed people were when we had floods!
Helen, I’m surprised, but I wasn’t very scared. Lived around them all my life. I felt very analytical about it. Flooding can be very scary. We get that too sometimes, but you guys had it really bad.~~Dee
omg, that is quite a story and a day! I’m glad things turned out well. I’ll have to call my girlfriend (who moved to Edmond not long ago). She’s terrified of those things (and not used to them) so this is a scary season. Hopefully it won’t be an overactive one.
Kathleen, I hope your friend wasn’t too frightened.~~Dee
Wow, too close. Glad you are okay. I thought I was the only one who did odd things to a cell phone. I dropped my last one into a cup of coffee. It died.
Deb, I’ve washed mine twice. I now have insurance coverage because of my track record. You had me snorting into my coffee about your mishap.~~Dee
Great story, Dee. I’m glad you’re all fine, even the peonies. This reminds me of a visit to my grandparents’ house in Cushing, OK, not far from Guthrie, I believe. My sister and I had walked to the local park; we were about 8 and 10. Suddenly the sirens went off, very loud. We looked up, but the sky was not threatening, and people seemed to be going about their business. So we stayed to play. A few minutes later my father and grandfather pulled up in the car and hustled us in. As we drove back to the house, the sky grew black. My grandparents didn’t have a storm cellar, but a neighbor did, so we ran down the alley to their house and crowded in the cellar with a small group of neighbors.
After a while we came out, and all was well. But the paper the next day showed photos of two twisters that almost but didn’t quite touch down. It made a big impression on this young Carolina girl.
Pam, your story reminds of my own childhood. I never had one quite that dramatic, but I have visited the root cellar more than once. We have a lovely concrete safe room.~~Dee
Brit' Gal Sarah
Dee we were thinking about constantly watching the TV. Gary was pointing out where you were approx’ on the map from your description on the phone last week and we knew it was close. Obviously we didn’t realise you were out and about in it!
Anyway just glad you are all ok, there were some hellacious wind gusts out there!
Sarah, we were just fine, and we didn’t intend to be out and about, but there we were.~~Dee
Lisa at Greenbow
It is good that you are ok. Those sirens put me on edge just hearing them. UGH… A friend of mine washed her phone the other day and it still worked. I guess she was lucky.
Lisa, I think it’s the Razors that don’t wash well, but it is squeaky clean.~~Dee
What a well told, exciting story. Your journalistic integrity never quits, even under the threat of a tornado. Glad you and the girls were all together, you would have been so worried if not. I remember well the sirens in Tulsa, very loud, and they did sound like the air raid sirens they used to blow for drills back in the cold war days. Remember bomb shelters? Like they would have protected us.
Thanks, Frances. I DO remember bomb shelters and tucking our heads between our knees under our little desks. What a nightmare that was. And, how stupid.~~Dee
Thank goodness it missed you. I have had a few tornado encounters and they are really scary. We don’t get too many here in NY, but last year we had one rip down many trees. Stay safe!
They aren’t much fun, but they are exciting.~~Dee
Sorry you had a scare, but I’m so glad you’re okay.
It certainly was interesting yesterday, weatherwise.
Aunt Jo, that it was. Glad you’re okay too.~~Dee
I thought of you when I heard about tornadoes in OK too. Glad you’re alright with interesting stories to tell about it. It reminds me of the time I was working at KMart and a tornado hit….
Isn’t it funny how everyone gets so hung up on the new technology they seem to forget how the older technology is sometimes superior.
Cinj, isn’t that the truth. Yes, we’re fine, and today, the sun is shining.~~Dee
I certainly remember Gary England and always watch him when in Oklahoma City or Norman. I usually just go to Tulsa now that my best friend died two years ago. She was the one who lived in Norman. Anyway, glad you’re all right. I do not miss those tornadoes, though we get some of that here too. It sort of looks like a tornado in my house right now though. I hate chaos!
Brenda, Gary is still around and still doing a great job. They really all do. When you come through to visit Tulsa, you should come see me.~~Dee
Hi, Dee, I thought of you this morning as I listened to CNN’s report of storms in OK. Glad you stayed clear of them and your family is safe. When is that season over??
Kathryn, around the middle of June. May is the worst month. May 3, 1999, was the worst on record. That’s when we had the F5 tornado that lasted for hours. That one was frightening.~~Dee
Carol, May Dreams Gardens
We pay attention to the tornado sirens around here, too, although sometimes they sound off for a big thunderstorm, even if there are no funnel clouds in sight. There is a siren at the entrance to my neighborhood, so it is very loud. Very loud.
And it is always an adventure if one is out and about, like you were, when the weather turns bad. Thank goodness all you got out of yours was a good story to tell later.
Carol, I didn’t think about Indiana having a lot of tornadoes. Our sirens go off for thunderstorms too, so that’s why we weren’t that worried at first.~~Dee