Okay, here’s a slightly longer tornado story…

Yesterday, May 10th, 2010, the storms were developing so quickly, there often wasn’t much warning about where the tornados would pop up.  Usually when you look at a radar of thunderstorms, there are lots of storms and only a few rotations. This was different.  Every spot that popped up on the radar had MULTIPLE rotations.  It was crazy.  So when they said “storm heading toward Norman,” I wasn’t paying much attention.  The weather men warned about a storm heading toward Norman, but they indicated one between Norman and Moore also.  I didn’t realize they were separate rotations.  It was hard to keep track.

I also blew off the warning because nothing ever hits Norman.  Seriously.  There’s ancient Indian protection from bad weather, the tornados are scared of Barry Switzer, we’re on top of a hill that diverts tornados around us, and the National Weather Center is here, so that means we’ll never have any interesting weather ever.  (If you aren’t from Norman, Oklahoma, you probably think I’m kidding.  I’m not.  I’ve actually heard each of those things as explanations for why we don’t get severe weather here.)

Gale-force winds hit my house suddenly, buffeting the trees in my yard.  We’re the first line of houses in this area, so we got the wind before it was turned into full-fledged tornado.  You might think I would have taken cover or rushed to the window to see what was going on.  Instead, I decided it might be a good time to put on some shoes and real pants in case it actually turned into an emergency.  Not that I have a storm shelter anyway.  The lights flickered and the power went out.

The wind passed quickly (because all of the storms were moving fast today) and my favorite mocking bird, Pat, returned to the yard looking for food.  I figured Pat wouldn’t be out flying around if severe weather was still headed my way.  My brother and I decided to head to a local bar so we could keep an eye on the radar and grab some dinner.  When we left the house we realized things were a lot worse off than they were at our house.  HW-9 was barricaded and a phone pole was broken and leaning over.  Police were diverting all the cars and detouring them off the highway.

One of many power poles broken near Classen and HW-9 in Norman, OK.

When we arrived at the bar and started watching helicopter footage of the tornado damage.  It wasn’t until they mentioned an intersection a mile from our house that we realized the destruction was caused by the same wind we’d experienced, only since then it had turned into an actual funnel.  It was surreal to see landmarks we recognized blown over.  We had no idea until we saw it on the news, and it was within spitting distance of our house.

Sometimes the big tornadoes touch down in areas where there’s nothing but trees and fields and we don’t notice them.  Sometimes the little tornadoes touch down in the middle of towns and neighborhoods and families.  This is the closest I’ve ever been to a tornado, and I’m incredibly glad it wasn’t bigger or closer than it was.  My power’s back on, but there is massive cleanup going on still.

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