Fellow blogger, Brian, said it correctly, weather is the great equalizer. It puts us all on equal footing. Storms don't care who your parents are or how much money you have or don't have. Most of us have those 'important' summer weather events in our memories.
I remember the tornado that hopped and skipped it's way across Wheaterville in the night. There were no warnings since there weren't the 24 hour weather warriors of today. I remember the way the day felt. It was odd - muggy and almost sultry- which was something our little corner of the world was not. Sultry was a 'southern' weather issue and one I just read about in books. Wyoming was and is not known for sultry weather.
When the storm roared through town, it crinkled the big water tower on the hill. It crinkled it like a person crinkles a pop can. The tower was empty for maintenance and painting. The twister hopped and skipped in a line from the water tower and bopped it's way next door to hitting our neighbors place.
The storm woke me up when my bedroom window blew open and heard my mother running around closing windows upstairs. The window slamming open freaked me because I had locked it and thought at first someone was breaking my window. My ears popped and I was honestly freaked out enough I just laid in bed for quite awhile not certain what to do. The wind was loud and just different. Can't remember a train sound - but it was just different. I grew up in wind country and that was not the 'normal' every day breeze.
I didn't see the twister but my mother saw the flashes from the power lines that were popped next door. In the daylight, the damage was weird. The neighbors shed was blown across the street and their awning had a every other runner off of it. It was bent upwards like when you bend metal with a can opener. Speculation at the time was the twister was pulling up and ended it's earthly time there. The neighbors to the east had trees torn up near the big ditch on the south end of their place.
The neighbors with the damaged awning had seen the twister coming. They had no where to go and they just grabbed each other and their grandchild and held on for dear life. They were lucky.
My friend, Melody, and I "chased" a tornado once. In actuality we were cruising main and saw cars heading out north of town. We just followed. We saw a funny cloud but didn't actually see the twister as there were trees in the way and learned more about it later. I can remember it being a very different color that the other clouds.
Another time, a group of friends had been to the Post Playhouse at Ft. Robinson. It was terribly stormy as we left for the thirty minute drive back to Chadron. My friend, Robin, drove us through some nasty, blinding rain and some terrible switching winds. We arrived back at campus just a bit freaked out and to find out there were tornado warnings. There was one house parent in the lobby at High Rise and he hollered at us to hurry up and get inside. Everyone in the dorms were safely in the tunnels. And according to what we learned later, we drove right through the middle of some nasty stuff. We were exceedingly lucky - looking back on it.
Just recently I got to have a tornado 'party' at work - thanks to the warnings of the Vortex 2 team. While there wasn't a touchdown in the new locale, there was rotation in the storms, some nasty rains and some softball sized hail in the region. Those were from the storms the tornado researchers were following. Folks I work with reported seeing the crews racing through the area. Older daughter saw the reports on the Weather Channel and text-messaged me about it. Son-in-law was traveling back to the new place and due to the reports he was able to wait out the storms and go behind them. If not, he would have been in the midst of some of that nasty hail.
I am grateful there are researchers doing their field studies so the 24 hour weather warriors can make those early warnings. I say hail, yes, I appreciate your work and are thankful for the passion you have for your jobs.