Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tornado in February!!

My plan when I woke up this morning was to blog about my past weekend. Things changed in a big way today and instead it is all about a wild afternoon. This is a long post but I had to include everything. Might have to blog again tomorrow about the weekend. I can sum up an exciting afternoon with one word.....TORNADO.

The weather forecast for today was supposed to be for a clear morning with possible late afternoon thundershowers. I drove my car over to Lake Hefner (about 5 miles south from where I live) and parked my car at the north end of the lake ready for a 7 mile run. I started my run at around 1:20 pm and figured I was safe because the weather report had mentioned that we wouldn't probably see rain for a couple of hours. Looking across the lake from the north end I could see there were a lot of dark ugly clouds to the south so I turned on the radio for a few minutes to see if I could get an update on the weather but heard nothing. Figured I would cut my run maybe a little short if the thundershowers kicked in.

The first 45 minutes of my run were fairly uneventful. It was cloudy and the temperature was in the mid 60s and felt pretty good. For the next 7 or 8 minutes it sprinkled lightly but wasn't too bad. When I got less than a mile from my car the clouds became very dark but there wasn't much rain however there was a lot of thunder and lightning. At that point I really wanted to hurry back to my car because the lighning was kind of freaking me out but I wasn't too worried about anything else. I got to within about 50 feet of my car and suddenly the area tornado alarms started going off. They test the alarms at noon every Saturday so I know what they sound like but today was Tuesday and it wasn't noon. I can't imagine how nervous I would have been if the sirens at started earlier in my run when I was as far out as 3 miles from my car. Lucky timing.

Got into my car and immediately turned on the radio. The broadcasters were talking about a possible tornado over near Lake Overhauser and that it was heading north/northeast. Overhauser is about 10 miles southwest so I knew I wasn't in immediate danger but I did realize that it was heading in my direction. It also wasn't a tornado at that point. As I started driving toward home they were updating the storm and mentioned that it was getting closer to where I was and they mentioned that it looked like it was heading toward Mercy Hospital which is directly across the turnpike from where I live (All I have to do is open the blinds in my front room and I stare right at Mercy). They started mentioning that anyone in that area should get inside and get to a place below ground. I live on the 2nd floor of an apartment building so I decided I wasn't heading home and I made a beeline for the Wal Mart about 3 miles east from where I live. Figured a large public place would be well equipt for something like this. Looking back on it now, the Wal Mart doesn't have an emergency storm location and the roof looks like it would peel off rather easily.

Right as I was getting out of my car they mentioned again on the radio that Mercy was in the path and they also started mentioning that the tornado had touched down and debris was seen flying throughout the area. I'm nervous at this point but I noticed that most of the people in WalMart were going about their business as though nothing was happening. I stood right outside the front entrance with a handful of other people and we watched the storm that would become the tornado up north go moving right by us. I never did see the actual tornado swirling but watching the clouds go by, you could tell they were up to no good. Stayed at WalMart for about 15 minutes and then went back to my car to tune in the radio. At that point they were mentioning that north Edmond, about 10 miles north of the WalMart was getting hit pretty hard. Found out later that 6 homes in Edmond were destroyed but that no one was seriously hurt. Also found out that there were businesses damaged about 5 miles south of where I live as as well as 2 or 3 miles northeast of my apartment, kind of freaky when you know damage has occured both south and north of you. They were also saying there was another storm moving up from the south that could also potentially be a tornado. Still didn't really want to go home and I was getting hungry so I went to an Italian restaurant that shares the parking lot with the WalMart to eat. While in the restaurant I was watching other really dark ugly clouds come toward the building. When the clouds closed in on us the building started getting hit with gumball sized hail (saw on the news that some parts of OKC got hit with tennis ball size hail).

Ate my meal and by that time the reports were that there was still potential for tornados but that it wasn't too likely so I headed home and kept a close eye on the news for the next couple of hours as slowly they kept downgrading the chance for another tornado in the area. From 5:00-7:00 tonight there was severe rain, thunder and lightning though and a couple of times the lights flickered (posted a few pictures on here that I took off of my deck right before the rains moved in, didn't have my camera on me when the main tornado passed by me). I did just hear on the news a little while ago that a tornado did hit the south part of the state late tonight and the early report was that at least 3 people were killed. These tornados are serious stuff.

Moral to the story. Don't go jogging to far from your car when the weather is crappy in Oklahoma and be sure to listen to the radio and or TV to determine exactly where the storm and potential tornado are heading. Also makes me wonder why there are people that actually like to get into their cars and chase these things. Not a good idea.

No comments: