Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anatomy of a day in tornado alley

A lot of dumb stories have come out since the tornado outbreak asking why people would choose to live in an area like this. Well, it's a dumb question because people live places for a million reasons, and I'm not here to write a sentimental ode to Oklahoma. I do want to document what it's like (from my perspective) to be in an area prone to severe weather during a day of severe weather. Like today.

A little background. I grew up in a tornadoey place in Texas. If you remember a few weeks before the Moore tornado, there was a tornado one town over from my hometown, Granbury, TX.  Growing up, I was terrified of bad weather. I'd get sick to my stomach when a tornado watch started.

So here we are. Here is my line of thinking on this stormy day in May.

So far tornado season has been pretty quiet. Until of course a week and a half ago, when the sky started falling. So since I just moved, I had to come up with my plan. The motto that local meteorologists have ingrained in us is stay alert and have a plan! I have a work plan and a home plan. My new place has an underground storm shelter, so that is pretty fantastic.

So now what. Following my meteorologists on twitter (@themahler @garyeok @nwsnorman). Believing them when they say to take cover. Reading the radar.

Ok that deserves it's own paragraph. I don't know if it's normal for the public to know how to read a radar, but in Oklahoma, you'd better.
Current radar of storms in northern OK

You watch the storm patterns, know how fast it's moving, and just generally stay aware. Meteorology has advanced enough that our people are able to tell us days in advance what days storms will be most likely to form. I feel grateful for that.

Although I mentioned I was terrified of storms growing up, I'm not now. I have a healthy fear and respect when there is something coming towards me or on top of me, but bad weather doesn't make me anxious. I appreciate the rain after this ridiculous drought the past couple of years. I enjoy the light show. But you will never catch me chasing storms or standing on the porch when there is an actual tornado in view.

Which reminds me of another thing that most people outside this region don't seem to understand. The chance of actually seeing/experiencing a tornado is pretty small. I (thankfully) have taken cover dozens of times, but have never seen one. 

So there you go. Stay safe kids. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I confess I was one of those people asking why anyone would want to live in a place so prone to natural disasters. It just breaks my heart to see flatted homes and displaced families. And then two days after the words were out of my mouth, we had an earthquake. My first time experiencing an earthquake. I was reminded that I too live in a natural disaster area. And, you're right, there are a million other reasons to live in beautiful southern California.