Growing up in the Midwest, I saw my fair share of “Severe Thunderstorm Warnings” “Tornado Watches” and quite a few “Tornado Warnings.”
I’ve seen my share of actual tornadoes. Some of them can really do a lot of devastation.
In my later life, I’ve seen a few typhoons, blizzards, etc. Nothing compares to a tornado.
The tornado’s path cannot be predicted. You may have the warnings, but until it hits, it is very hard to predict where it will go and by then it may be too late.
One time when I was very young, I remember my dad waking us up in the middle of the night, telling us that we needed to “get to the cellar” because it does not look too good outside. Of course this was before weather radio and we only had three stations on TV; they were all off the air at 3:00 a.m.
Root cellars are not too common anymore. They were used to store fruits and vegetables and they were usually placed close to the house so they could be easily accessible. Ours had two doors, one to the entrance to the stairs and another one at the bottom of the stairs that allowed you to get into the actual cellar. Inside it was about eight by eight in size and we had chairs and a kerosene lamp. There were selves with canned fruit and vegetables. They were stored there in the summer to keep them cool and in the winter to keep them from freezing.
That night it was like a scene from the 1996 movie, Twister. The wind was blowing very hard making it hard to even stand up, tree limbs were flying around and the rain stung when it hit you. We found our dog, named Cisco (named by me after the Cisco Kid), and made our way into the cellar. Most cellars have vents and you could hear the sound of the twister (yes, it sounded like a freight train) rolling through.
In a few minutes it was over and then the rain and hail came. We exited the cellar and saw what we could of the devastation, since it was around 4:00 a.m. Luckily our home, shed and vehicle made it through OK. Our apricot tree was shredded with limbs all over the place. Around our small town the same destruction held true. But other areas were not so lucky.
Later that day, we took a car ride and since most twisters travel in a northwesterly direction, we followed roads that would take us that way. About 10 miles from home, we went over a hill and there were splinters of wood all over the side of the next hill. As we got closer to the splinters, we could see it had been a home. We stopped and it was something I’ll never forget: The home was torn completely up with no parts of it being over three feet long. The foundation was all that was left. They found appliances up to five miles away. A year or so later during a drought, the owner found his refrigerator in his pond a half mile away. Clothes were hooked on tree limbs miles away. It was sad as this family lost most of their possessions.
It was a very good thing that I saw this event as a child. I take “Tornado Warnings” seriously even up here in Big Sky Country Montana where I currently live.