Night of the tornado!

April 7, 2006

Last Sunday, Tim and I went to Decatur to visit some friends and to enjoy the lush, delightful smell of soybean processing in action. We knew that the weather was supposed to get nasty that afternoon, but we didn't give a crap–the last time we canceled our plans to go to D-town because the Weather Channel had a "tornadoes likely" forecast, the weather didn't do anything and we felt like jackasses.

One of our stops in Decatur was Menards, because Colin needed to return some stuff. We decided that it would be a good idea to purchase a new weather radio, because the old one is no longer functional, and because I am a weather geek who really likes to know when the Big One is coming so I can scare the living crap out of myself over it.

After a long afternoon of gyros at the Lincoln Lounge (which is surprisingly fresh-smelling on a Sunday afternoon), shopping at the Hickory Point Mall (which just isn't the same since the demise of Corn Dog 7), loafing in Colin's basement, and watching the cable TV get interrupted by tornado warnings, we decided that it would behoove us to get the heck out of Decatur while it was still semi-decent outside. We listened to the radio on the way home, and heard the warnings for the approaching storm, which hit Decatur right as we arrived back at our apartment.

We immediately put on a local news station, and I was thrilled to note that the weatherman who reminds me of Dafydd from Little Britain was on. I always feel safe when Dafydd is giving me immediate updates on impending severe weather. I split my attention between the TV and our large picture window, which offers a magnificent view of both our carport and the western sky. It didn't look that nasty. Whatever.

Then the cable was interrupted for a tornado warning! We get tornado warnings here all the time. It is no big deal, unless you have just moved here from Chicago. It is, however, a big deal when the cable is interrupted for a tornado warning. The interruption usually includes a variation on the message "The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for [insert quadrant of] Champaign County. Please take cover TO SAVE YOUR LIFE." Sometimes the message is delivered by a very unsettling robot voice, which really freaks the Chicagoans out. This time, it was delivered by a friendly-but-businesslike ESDA guy.

I still didn't care too much and kept looking out the picture window and listening to Dafydd talk about the Doppler radar.

Then the power went out, so there was nothing but the picture window to entertain me.

Tim turned on the weather radio, which worked just fine (thankfully). Yes, there was a tornado warning for Champaign County. No, it wasn't our part of Champaign County. So I continued going about my business, which wasn't much considering that the power was out.

I was doing something besides looking out the picture window when Tim said, in an uncharacteristically stern voice, "It looks creepy and hazy out there, and kind of green. Get in the bathtub!"

Ah, the bathtub of our second-floor apartment. As the one interior room with no windows, it is our shelter from tornadoes. Tim grabbed the weather radio and a couple of towels, I grabbed the two giant pillows from the couch, and we sat down in the tub, hoping that the impending tornado would skip over our apartment building. Those pillows are great and all–I have fallen asleep on them while lounging on the couch many times–but I do not think they are the best protection from a mighty force of nature. In the mythical battle of tornado versus the pillows on my couch, the tornado wins 99.999% of the time.

So we sat in the bathtub and listened to the weather radio and all of the creepy noises from outside. There's something unsettling about sitting in a bathtub with a pillow over your head during a tornado warning. Everything sounds like a tornado. A light breeze blowing a leaf across the porch? Tornado. Static on the weather radio? Tornado. The wind blowing everything off the windowsill? Definitely a tornado. I probably would have felt safer standing in front of the picture window, where I could at least see what was going on.

The bathroom got stuffier and stuffier. The flashlight on the weather radio went out. (It only lasted for about 15 minutes.) The noises from outside continued. The tornado warnings on the radio mentioned places like Flatville, St. Joseph, and (my favorite) Foosland. I love Foosland. At around 7:45, the tornado warning was finally lifted, and we ventured out of the bathroom. Our apartment didn't sustain any damage, other than some knick-knacks blowing off the windowsill. The next morning, I noticed that the address sign had blown off the window, and Tim noticed some shingles in the parking lot next door. Our power didn't come back on until the middle of the night, but we were lucky–there were people in town who didn't have power for two or three days because some power lines blew over.

Of course, since nothing happened, I felt kind of lame for sitting in the bathtub. My vindication came two days later, when it was reported that a tornado touched down on Oak Street south of Kirby Avenue, which is only a mile or two from where we live. So perhaps that weird haze that Tim saw was a funnel cloud. There was also a funnel cloud north and west of where we live…right near the area where we'll be moving in July. Our new house wasn't damaged, fortunately.

One brief note: this weblog won't contain much, if any, library-related content any more. The library content will move to the brand-spankin'-new YALT Blog, which is a joint venture between Tim and I. There isn't much there right now, just some stuff that Tim posted, but we decided it would be fun to do a joint library tech weblog. YALT Blog stand for "yet another library tech blog," because we are fully aware that there's a glut of library tech blogs. I don't think any of them are written by a married couple, though, so at least we've got something original going for us.


One Response to “Night of the tornado!”

  1. Amanda Says:

    Glad to hear you guys made it home okay, Dorothy!

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