46 Years Ago Today

Remembering “Tornado Day”

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46 years ago tonight, we survived this monster with only minor damage at my parents’ house.  Twenty-six fellow citizens lost their lives, though, and I knew one woman that died.  I was in the sixth grade, and she made regular visits to my school as a volunteer.

My mother, father and I tried to get to a neighbor’s storm cellar across the street as the storm hit, but the fierce wind actually blew my father back into the house when he attempted to walk out the front door to the south.  We took shelter in an interior closet and heard the trademark “train” sound outside as the storm roared over us and blew over our massive maple tree in the back yard, narrowly missing hitting our house.  The wooden fence didn’t stand a chance either.

To this day, I have never been as scared as I was that night.

We had no advance warning until the local news folks broke into the Carol Burnett Show right before the storm hit, showing the simple black/white radar with a “hook echo” on it.  Shortly afterward, the electricity went off, and we listened to a local radio station for news updates on our battery-powered radio from that point and over the next couple of days.  We had no city services until later the next day, a first for me, and it was my first experience in living amid a truly chaotic situation for the first time.

I will never, ever, ever forget that night.  Ever.

It’s still hard to think back on it and talk about it even today, and, like my mother, it’s why I am a fierce “weather bird” just about any time during severe weather season.  I still miss her calls to make sure we are aware of impending weather, too.

If you do not own a NOAA weather radio, please get one and keep it on over the coming weeks. We nearly always have a weather radio on in our RV when camping, and we generally avoid camping during the months of May and June unless we feel that the weather forecast will work for us just prior to our departure day.  That includes forecasted winds, since driving an RV in high winds is not a good plan.  We have good friends that encountered  high winds on their drive home from their RV trip last week, and it certainly played havoc with their plans, not to mention their nerves.

2013-05-31-16-44-20-1
The massive storm that spawned the deadly El Reno tornado in 2013, as seen behind us after we left the OKC area early, thanks to the early warning from the NWS in Norman.

 

I’ve also found that following the NWS offices directly on Twitter is a fabulous idea, too.  Following the NWS Norman Twitter feed may have saved my life, as well as my nephew’s life, a few years ago on a trip to Oklahoma City when we heeded a early predictive warning about what was likely to come just prior to the tragic El Reno tornado that struck the area where we were a short time later.  We saw that massive storm in our rear view mirror after we departed the area earlier than planned, missing it my about an hour.

What are the chances that I would be in two separate locations where massive tornadoes struck in my lifetime anyway?  I truly hope there are no more, but living in “Tornado Alley” means the chance is always there.

Please remain “weather aware” during storm season.  I’m thankful that we have the opportunity to be informed so much more today than in years gone by.

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Author: DK

Blogger at My Five Fs (Faith - Family - Food - Fotos - Fun) and Animal Wonder. Empty-nester that now shares life with my hubby and our two standard poodles. Enjoys camping in our RV, taking and editing photos, trying new low-carb recipes, baking pretty decorated cookies for special occasions, walking daily, spending time with family and friends when we can, playing with the dogs, and is grateful to God for every single day of this blessed life and for the opportunity to share and connect with some great people here.

6 thoughts on “46 Years Ago Today”

    1. After our harrowing experience in 2013, I vowed to try to always remind folks about following the NWS feeds on Twitter at least once a year. Follow the page directly to get the fastest updates, sometimes even before they are released to news outlets. Yes, very grateful to have fared so much better than many others during both of those storms. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The tips are worth knowing. Thanks.

    Funny, how a person can take weather for granted even though one hears about horrible natural catastrophes all the time. I’ve never been one to be particularly concerned about bad storms but then we haven’t been living in tornado prone or hurricane prone areas. Good reminder to me to pay more attention. There was a twister not far from here a few years ago. Need to pay more attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We can get a little too comfortable with the storms this time of year, or at least some people can. They are good reminders. Our weather radio can be powered by batteries or solar and wasn’t expensive. Many of the weather apps for phones can also “scream” when a warning is published, which is important to have, especially at night. That F5 tornado hit at night and was over a mile wide at its worst. That was the part of the city where almost all of the deaths occurred. The stories of how those people died are just too tragic for me to even write about so many years later. The next few weeks are typically the worst times for the big storms.

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  2. We got a NOAA weather radio a couple years ago. I also get cell phone alerts for severe weather. Thankful for the technology that buys us a little more time to prepare, though that radio always scares the daylights out of me when it first goes off!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you have multiple ways of staying informed! That is always the best option. We have to rely on a weather radio in most situations when we go camping in the RV because we have little or no cell and internet coverage. Weather radios work anywhere. Yes, they definitely get your attention, don’t they? 😉

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