Aside from the fact that I came THIS close to getting rear-ended last night, just as I went into the church to teach kids, I get a text from my mom that read, "Tornado on ground at sale barn." For those of you who are familiar with the area in which my parents live, you'll appreciate how close that is. But for those of you who don't, let's just say that the sale barn is at the top of the hill and my parents live at the bottom. Uh. Yeah.
I spent the next hour or so exchanging texts with mom. Let's just say that the ol' cell phone network was hoppin' and it took FOREVER for some of those to go through. Aggravating when you want NEWS! So on my way home from church, I called to check in. I wasn't sure I would get through, but thankfully the phones were working. The story was a bit more harrowing than mom conveyed through text messages.
Dad was working at the airport yesterday and called mom on his way home to see if she'd been watching the weather. She hadn't but went and turned on the t.v. Most of the local stations had switched to National News already, but Fox4 hadn't and they were reporting a severe thunderstorm headed their way. You see, dad had heard about a tornado ripping through Canton and closing I-20. That same storm was now headed straight for them. About that time, mom says that it starts hailing. And then, it stopped and got quiet. Eerily quiet. Mom was outside on the covered patio assessing the size of the hailstones about this time, talking to dad on the phone. The next part of the conversation went something like this:
Mom: It just stopped hailing and got really still. OUCH! Pain. In. My. Head.
Mom: OH MY GOSH! There's a tornado at the sale barn!
Dad: OH MY GOSH! There's the tornado! I have to gun it!
Uh. Yeah. It's MUCH better to hear this story AFTER it happens & you know that everyone is okay! Dad was almost home when he spotted the twister. If he had stopped when he saw it, he would have been directly in its path and there is no safe shelter in that area - just a bunch of sheet metal buildings and trailer homes. So unfortunately, his only option was to giddy-up and go as fast as he could to get clear of it. He made it past the sale barn just before the tornado came through.
He reported the tornado to local PD. Apparently, he was the first report of one on the ground. For anyone not watching The Weather Channel - the ONLY source to issue Tornado Warnings for their area as they were happening - well, you were pretty much screwed unless you were outside watching the storm blow through. (Dad is a Certified Storm Spotter and the rest of us are hobbyists, so we tend to watch these big systems blow in, which is why mom had gone outside in the first place.)
The tornado remained on its path JUST to the north of my parents' house, and they didn't sustain any damage that they know of. The rest of the county? Not so lucky. The tornado ripped a line of destruction from the SW corner to the NE corner and passed through the middle of town. LOTS of damage now visible in the daylight. No reports of injuries aside from scratches and bruises. Amazing when you consider the lack of tornado sirens and NO WARNING from the National Weather Service until long AFTER the tornado had gone through town! Nice. The Red Cross has been dispatched, and an assessment team from the National Weather Service is expected in the area today.
And thus ends the excitement of yesterday evening.