May 25, 2011

Mother Nature's Wrath

Not to have another "living in Texas makes me an expert on ____" post, but here it is. Growing up in the lovely section of the country known as Tornado Alley has brought me a healthy amount of appreciation for Mother Nature and her temper tantrums, but also skepticism. I participated in tornado drills in school four times a year, but we never actually had to implement our tornado plan. I cleaned my closet at my parents' house every spring since that was our hideout spot (three people plus a jittery dachshaund terrier basset hound in a small closet did not a fun time make).

Last night, though, we had some crazy weather in Texas. For once I realized that simply chilling in the closet at my apartment (on the THIRD FLOOR) was not the best idea and "evacuated" to the semi-underground hallway on the ground floor of my building (where I huddled with about 20 other residents, smart people). For those not in the know, here's Tornado 101 as I know it (not to be substituted for actual warnings and advice from meteorologists/sirens/etc.)

1. Tornado Watch: suspected rotation in the clouds, storms capable of producing tornadoes in the area, stay tuned to the news.
2. Tornado Warning: actual tornado spotted, seek shelter immediately.
a. Shelter: lowest point of the structure (basements are best, underground parking garages are also nice), with interior-only walls (aka, no windows and no walls where the other side is outdoors). Bathrooms, closets, and hallways with doors are your best bet if you don't have an underground option (provided these have interior walls)

3. If you DO seek shelter, have a connection to the outside world. Last night I took my iPod which has a radio transmitter so I could still listen to the weather reports. Twitter was also handy as the media was able to distribute info about several areas at once and not focus in depth on one like they did on TV.

4. Grab a flashlight. True, I grabbed mine so I could still read my book club book if the power went out, but nothing is scarier than rain AND darkness.

5. Hunker down. I've really only "sought shelter" a handful of times, but better safe than sorry, right?

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