Tornado Season

For those of you who aren't familiar with tornadoes and are hearing news coverage of this, the following short glossary is intended to help you understand. [I did not create this - credits at the bottom.]

Fujita Scale: Scale used to measure wind speeds of a tornado and their severity.

Meteorologist: A rather soft-spoken, mild-mannered type person until severe weather strikes, and they start yelling at you through the t.v.: "GET INTO YOUR BATHROOM OR BASEMENT OR YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!"

Storm Chaser: Meteorologist-rejects who are pretty much insane but get us really cool pictures of tornadoes. We release them from the mental institution every time it starts thundering, just to see what they'll do.

Tranquilizer: What you have to give any dog or cat who lived through the May 3rd, 1999 tornado every time it storms or they tear your whole house up freaking out of their minds. Prozac works well also (equally well for people and pets) :-)

Moore, Oklahoma: A favorite gathering place for tornadoes. They like to meet here and do a little partying before stretching out across the rest of the Midwest.

Bathtub: Best place to seek shelter in the middle of a tornado, mostly because after you're covered with debris, you can quickly wash off and come out looking great.

Severe Weather Radio: A handy device that sends out messages from the National Weather Service during a storm, though quite disconcerting because the high pitched, shrill noise just as an alarm sounds suspiciously just like a tornado. Plus the guy reading the report just sounds creepy.

Tornado Siren: A system the city spent millions to install, which is really useful, unless there's a storm or a tornado, because then, of course, you can't hear them.

Storm Cellar: A great place to go during a tornado, as it is almost 100% safe, though weigh your options carefully. Most are not well cared for and are homes to rats and snakes. Many are uninhabitable because they are full of old lawn mowers, boxes and other junk.

May-June: Tourist season in Oklahoma, when people who are tired of bungee jumping and diving out of airplanes decide it might be fun to chase a tornado. These people usually end up on Fear Factor.

Barometric Pressure: Nobody really knows what this is, but when it drops, a lot of pregnant women go into labor, which makes for exciting moments as their husbands are trying to drive them them to the hospital and dodge tornadoes at the same time. It's an exciting new sport.

Cars: The worst place to be during a tornado (next to a mobile home). Yes, you can out run a tornado in your car... unless everybody on the road decides to do the same thing, and then you're in grid lock.

A Ditch: Supposedly where you're supposed to go if you find yourself without shelter or in your car during a tornado. Theoretically, the tornado is supposed to pass right over you, but since it can lift a 20 ton truck and up root a three hundred year old tree, I'd bet my life on out-running it in a car.

Mobile Home (slang: "Tornado Magnet"): Most people are convinced mobile homes send off some strange signal that triggers tornadoes, because if there's one mobile home park in a hundred mile radius, the tornado will find it.

Earthquake: What any Californian would rather go through on any scale of severity than face a tornado.

Tornado: What any Oklahoman would rather go through on any scale of severity than face an earthquake.

Twister: Slang for 'tornado' and also the title to a movie starring Helen Hunt, which incidentally everyone thought was corny and unrealistic until May 3rd, 1999.

Power Flash: One of the most reliable ways to track a tornado at night, it's the term used when the tornado hits a power line and a bright light flashes. It's also the emotion experienced by meteorologists when they get to make the call to interrupt prime-time must-see t.v. and a million dollars worth of advertising to track a storm for viewers.

Here are some phrases you might want to learn and be familiar with:

"We'll have your electricity restored in 24 hours," which means it'll be about a week.

"We're going to be out for a week, so buy a lot of supplies and an expensive generator," means it's going to be on in twelve hours, probably as soon as you return from Wal-Mart.

"It's a little muggy today." Get outta town. It's getting ready to storm.

"There's just a slight chance of severe weather today, so go ahead and make your outdoor plans." Ha ha ha ha.

And the BIG TIP of the day:
When your electricity goes out, and you go to bed at night, be sure to turn off everything that was on before it went out, or when it is unexpectedly restored in the middle of the night, every light, every computer, your dishwasher, your blow dryer, your washing machine, your microwave and your fans will all come on all at once.
1) You'll just about have a heart attack when they all come on at the same time, waking you from a dead sleep.
2) Your breakers will blow, leaving you in the dark once again.

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May 3rd, 1999
On this date, Moore, Oklahoma, was hit by a particularly devasting tornado. My sister and her husband lost the building that housed their insurance agency. My niece lost most of her home (not flatened, but major damage to all but one corner of the house). Of course many other homes were destroyed, by the block or street. Schools were demolished; businesses gone. Those who survived gained a new perspective on the frailty of life.

Last updated: Wednesday, 23 March 2005
© Richard Ogg, 2000-2020
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