Living in Nebraska, you learn at a young age that tornado watches and warnings are part of the spring/summer season.
The city's sirens are tested each Wednesday at 11am along with the emergency broadcast system. In my hometown they are tested on the 1st and 15th of every month. Schools have tornado drills every quarter so that the children are prepared.
With technology today, tornadoes just don't spring up. We usually know that storms are coming a few days in advance. And once the storms start to approach and develop, we are notified and kept up to date via the news and radar. We know to take severe thunderstorms seriously and cautiously. We can usually tell if the weather feels 'stormy'. The perfect mixture of humidity, wind and temps...a true Nebraskan can tell!
Last night we kicked off the 2014 tornado season. It actually started months ago but last night was the first set of storms to approach our city. We had tornadoes north of town and south west of town. Luckily they missed the city. Tornadoes weren't the only concern with these storms. 90 mile an hour winds, tennis ball sized hail and intense lighting. Power outages and trees uprooted, knocked over and stripped bare. Roofs ripped off of houses, awnings torn off of store fronts and signs broken and bent. Some small towns around our state were hit hard last night. One even reported 90% of the town with heavy damage.
Another part of tornado season is preparedness. Weather radios, flashlights, blankets etc. Every family has a plan of what to do. We typically have a tote with batteries, a couple of flashlights and blankets. Each child knows to grab a pair of shoes and a jacket before heading to the basement. I grab snacks and Evie's diaper bag. John grabs the tote and weather radio (although our phones seem more beneficial these days)
Because of advanced technology we knew of the storms and could follow them up to an hour in advance. The news is able to estimate the time they will hit based on direction and speed. While we were waiting to see if the storm cell would continue north or turn south, the girls had extra time to gather a few more things. It was interesting to see how each girl reacted to the situation. McKynna gathered her text books (so we wouldn't have to pay replacement costs...so funny), her grandpa's army jacket and heirlooms from her grandma. Kwynn didn't really do anything. She took a shower, messed around on her laptop and acted oblivious to the whole situation. Corynn packed a bag with extra clothes, stuffed animals, her iPod, iPad, and a pillow. Evie followed us around- not really knowing what to think. John and I pulled plants in and alternated between watching the storm from the porch and watching it on the radar.
Luckily we never had to go into the basement and we didn't lose power. The storms missed us on both sides. The twins and Corynn headed to bed. The lightening and thunder continued well into the night and spooked Evie, so I slept with her...making it a long night for me.
In June of 1980, seven tornadoes devastated our hometown nearly wiping it off the map. I was only 6 months old so I don't have any memories of it, but I grew up hearing all the stories. The end of May and early June is prime tornado season for us. So I have a feeling this was just the beginning.