Random tornado advice

March 5, 2008

We’ve had at least two tornado warnings in south Florida since the start of 2008, and it occurs to me that much of my calm in the face of such possibilities has to do with my Midwestern education about what to do, what not to do, and how to know when it’s serious. Today, I got to put some of that knowledge to use. And I’m going to share, mostly b/c I love to talk about tornadoes. Also, b/c I once found my Florida in-law’s strolling merrily outdoors while tornado sirens were going off. They were all like “what is that strange noise? I wish it would stop.”

So, I was driving home around 3:45pm, and I turned toward the west, and  I saw a very odd horizon that was black on top and yellow on the bottom. That was sign 1, which didn’t freak me out because nothing else made me think, hmmm, tornado. There was a slight thunderstorm, but no discernible temperature change or trees bent halfway over in freak wind gusts. But I took note.

Then, it started raining really really hard. When I pulled into the Publix to get my weekly fix of frozen pizza and Corona, it was raining so hard I did not went to get out of the car, so I pulled out a book and waited for the rain to lighten up. Then, I started hearing a pinging sound that definitely wasn’t rain. I opened my door a crack to check, and sure enough, in came little ice pellets. Hail. That was sign 2, and a sign that I never ignore. I immediately got out of the car into the pouring rain and ran into the Publix as fast as I could without getting hit by a car. It was worth getting completely soaked.

Why? Well, my third grade teacher once explained to me that the moment before a squall produces a tornado, there will usually be hail. Hail is a sign that serious s*** is going on in the sky.  If you see hail, it is not a good time to be sitting in your car. I’m sure there have been tornadoes not preceded by hail, but in my experience, it’s been a pretty good indicator.

Nothing happened while I was in the store, but when I got back to my car, I learned that a tornado warning had been declared for northeastern Broward and southeastern Palm Beach… right where I was. So, that means that something could definitely have happened.

So, to summarize:

Signs that a severe storm that could produce a tornado is in progress include a rapid change in temperature, an unnaturally dark sky with other weird colors in it, and often heavy thunder and lightning ongoing. After you’ve seen it once, you’ll know.

Hail = get inside.

Tornado watch = conditions are somewhat favorable for a tornado to occur. Cancel the picnic, but don’t skip your dinner date. Usually, nothing happens.

Tornado warning = a funnel cloud or something very very close to it has been sighted. It is real. You must take cover immediately.

Random sirens = tornado warning.

Hopefully, no one who reads this blog will ever have to know these things.


3 Responses to “Random tornado advice”

  1. Emily Says:

    Oh, the tornado sirens. I didn’t even know that we had a tornado warning in Palm Beach County.

    That’s how unconcerned I was about the weather of late.

    As a Midwesterner, I too share your understanding of tornadoes.

  2. SJ Says:

    I wouldn’t have known except that I happened to be out and about in it. But I tend to think about the weather regularly anyway, whereas newly minted PhD’s probably have much better things to think about 🙂

  3. я так считаю: прелестно..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: