Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A few weeks ago...

It finally happened: a few Sundays ago we had to use the storm shelter. As in there were warnings sent via text message and the tornado siren and storm clouds and wind and we went to the shelter.

While we were in the shelter we watched the news and saw a band of really heavy rain passing across the north east of town. No tornados. There was hail and Michael ducked out to get some. The hail was so round, almost perfect spheres of ice.

We were only in the shelter for 45 minutes but it was enough to disrupt our neighbours birthday party, even though one of the other guests brought paper cups and a bottle of wine. Michael and I were a little more pragmatic: we brought our cameras, passports, change of clothes for Jimmy, one laptop and a raincoat.

Yes, I look calm, but I was freaking out on the inside. Jimmy was really good, even though it was nearly bedtime. He was also really good about going home in the pouring rain and not so keen to have a warm bath after. The raincoat kept the computer, cameras, and passports dry on the walk home.

Before going to bed I checked the weather forecast and there was going to be another storm and tornado watch for Monday afternoon.

So Monday...

(No, no, it was ok.)

I decided to pick Jimmy up after nap time because in the event of a tornado I wanted to have my boy with me (I also figured it would be easier on his carers if they had one less child in their "storm shelter", the restroom). My sweet boy was still asleep when I went to pick him up. I wasn't the only parent collecting their child/ren.

Jimmy was pretty happy to be going home. We hung out and watched Trains: The Movie on Michael's computer. And then it started to rain, with thunder and lightning and hail. We switched to using my laptop.

The rain stopped and not long after that the tornado warning siren sounded and we hid in the hall cupboard.

It was not the smartest place to hide, because we live on the second storey and shelter below ground level is best. Yeah... I know...

I exchanged text messages with Michael and neighbours and on hearing the news that a tornado was sighted around town it was clear that Jimmy and I had to get to proper shelter.

We put shoes on, I put Jimmy in the Manduca and my computer in my backpack, and with rain coats on, even though it wasn't really raining, we went to the shelter. I went as fast as I could, watching the sky the whole time.

It was not scary. Tense, but not scary. Why?

Well, when we first moved I talked to one of our neighbours about tornadoes and it turned out that she and her husband have lived in Tornado Ally most of their lives. She had some interesting information to share.

But before I do, I must state that this is not official information and if you happen to live in Tornado Ally, please follow the official recommendations and respond to warnings as they come out. I felt pretty silly about sitting in the cupboard after being told about the nearby tornado sighting.

So, what did my neighbour say? Well, she wasn't keen on the storm shelter provided at our complex because it's not completely underground. She also said that the tornado siren might start up after a storm has started raging, with debris already flying around and she'd prefer to stay in her (groundfloor) apartment.

But the thing that stood out was her comment that the first thing she and her husband notice is ear-popping changes in air pressure as the tornado drew near.

On that Monday, neither Jimmy nor I did not notice ear-popping changes in air pressure before, during, and after our dash to the storm shelter. And being little, Jimmy is more sensitive to changes in air pressure than I am.

So, between the light wind, the drizzle, the not-so-ominous sky, and the lack of ear-popping changes in air pressure, I was sure we would be ok, but I was still worried and still felt a little silly for not going to the storm shelter straight away.

But there was no tornado, "just" a swirl of  clouds that could have turned into a tornado.

Next time, if there is a next time, I'll be taking Jimmy straight to the nearest storm shelter as soon as the siren sounds during a tornado-watch or tornado-warning.

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