Sunday, April 12, 2015

Okies Underground

Published in the Miami News-Record, April 12, 2015 

Those who know me best know that I am kind of a weather freak. I become somewhat obsessed with the weather this time of year and I consider Dr. Greg Forbes, Jim Cantore, and Mike Bettes the holy trinity of The Weather Channel. I love Dr. Forbes so much I have considered writing him fan mail or at the very least, naming my next cat after him.

As a kid, when the TV (a console behemoth that commandeered 85% of the living room) began emitting the ear-splitting tone that for most meant “Take cover now!” all I heard was the siren song of the National Weather Service warbling “Go stand in the yard and look for the funnel!” I can only remember there being a handful of times as a kid that we actually drove the mile-and-a-quarter to Papa’s where there was a cellar – and never once did we ever step foot underground. I remember on one of the rare stormy treks to Papa’s, very vividly seeing the tail of a funnel cloud dip down out of the clouds and Mom pointing it out. Sis and I stood on that little back porch and simultaneously spoke a reverent “Wowwwwwwww”. But we never ran for that cellar. Probably because Mom knew there were mice in it and she’d rather be swept up in a funnel straight into Jesus’ arms than seek shelter with a host of rodents.

Now, some 30 years later, my kids know that when Momma says TOR:CON more than about 10 times in a day, they should probably go ahead and pack their tornado bags because it is almost certainly inevitable we will go underground at some point. If you look up my family on Ancestry.com you might very well find we are descendants of moles as much as we go below the ground’s surface in the spring.

Last Thursday afternoon Sis called and asked if I had been watching the weather. I answered, “Duh.” She then asked if we had a cellar at the new house. Again, I answered, “Duh.” Then she asked if we were going to be home. You don’t need me to tell you how I answered. After confirmation she said, “Good. We’re coming out. I’m bringing pizza.” Yessssssss. We had an all-out party while we watched radar images online, TWC on TV, and had the NOAA radio on the kitchen counter. Once the NOAA radio started going off I hollered for a mass bathroom visit for all of the kids seeing as how a few years ago it was when the tornado was visible in the sky that everyone suddenly had to pee. When everyone’s phones started screeching A TORNADO IS IN YOUR AREA – TAKE COVER NOW we managed to get four parents, one adult child and her 60 pound dog, five kids, and my infant nephew in the cellar in under two minutes. It was nothing short of military perfection.


We were safe and sound – albeit not altogether comfortable – underground for about half an hour. The baby barely fussed and eventually fell asleep. The dog took up more room than anyone and eventually started to snore. The boys said the pizza made them gassy. The girls played games on an iPad. We talked, passed the baby, texted people on the outside for updates.  And even though we had two teenage boys in an enclosed 5x8’ concrete box, we weren’t even gassed out by anyone’s noxious fumes. Maybe my sister’s vehement threat of dismemberment if anyone so much as thought about farting had something to do with that. ‘Tis the season for storms, my fellow Okies. Get a weather radio and keep batteries in it. Friend me on Facebook – I’m quite dedicated in my meteorological annoyances. Find a shelter and make a plan. 

And if you have teenage boys, throw a bottle of Gas-X in your emergency kit. Just in case. 

1 comment:

SK Waller said...

I've only run for cover once, in 2010, when a tornado touched down a couple of blocks from us. We still just go out on the front porch when the sirens sound. There's an old man across the street who brings a lawn chair out and faces southwest. When he goes indoors, I go indoors.