Who knew what would transpire? Goodness knows, I certainly didn't.
I had no idea that danger was lurking in those innocent little puffy, white clouds, but what started sweet and calm turned into total chaos and disaster in a period of a few short hours.
The air was oppressive enough and we knew that a cold front was marching in our direction from the west/northwest, but we had no clue that the weather would turn into something sinister.
Around noonish, I was on break from work. It was a nice partly sunny day. Temps at noon were approaching ninety degrees, a little warm for mid April, but nothing too terribly out of the ordinary. Clouds dotted an otherwise cornflower-blue sky and the winds were rather brisk, blowing from the south at a good clip, probably 20-25 miles per hour, with gusts close to 30-35. Rather breezy; today was not a good hair day. It was also quite humid, to the point of being oppressive. That should have been the first clue.
I joined my friends for lunch at Chico's Mexican Cantina; we had a good meal of tacos, salad with Mexican style veggies, and for dessert, sopapillas, as well as plenty of cold, ice water to soothe our burning throats/stomachs. We were on break for an hour; it was customary for lunch. We had an hour for lunch and two fifteen-minute breaks during a typical 8-hour workday.
After lunch, we walked back to the office, where we returned to our stations and commenced on continuing our duties. I was in charge of billing and making phone calls, to remind people to pay their bills. I loved my job.
Around three, one of my co-workers announced that our area was under a tornado watch. The watch was in effect for the Abilene/Lubbock area of Texas from now (2:59/3:00 in the afternoon) until 12 midnight. Storms were already starting to explode west of us and it looked like some of these storms meant buisness. I didn't think too much of it; tornadoes and severe storms were rather commonplace in our part of the country: in fact, our area was known as "Tornado Alley" ... and for a very good reason.
We were fairly used to tornadoes or severe storms packing large hail, high, damaging winds, extremely heavy rain, dangerous lightning, and of course, the star of the whole shebang: tornadoes, some of, which, could get quite large if they were strong enough.
I just went about my business, doing my job, not giving the weather a second thought.
Around a half hour later, Hailey, the co-worker who had alerted me of the tornado watch, said that some of the storms were now putting down multiple tornadoes ranging in strength from 3 to 5 on the Fujita Tornado Scale (now known as the EF scale), and there was the possibility of increasing strength in some of these tornadoes. Some of the tornadoes were well over 2 miles wide and were already leveling cities and towns, disrupting lives and doing damage to property and buildings.
That was rather unsettling, especially since these storms were west of us ... heading this way.
I looked out the window. Sure enough, the skies were darkening rapidly; soon it looked like it was approaching night time. Bolt after bolt of lightning (CGs mainly, but also some anvil crawlers) split the darkness in half on a continual basis; it was as if a strobe lights had been placed in the sky. It seemed that lightning flashed every half second. The wind was picking up rapidly and already the tornado sirens were shrieking their sirensong (but we weren't aware of it, as we were inside).
That's when our boss came into our area and told us all to go to the center of the room, away from all windows or glass, for the sirens were sounding and a very significant tornado was barreling down upon us. It was moving east at 90 miles an hour and was reported to be 4 miles wide. It was reported to be above 5 on the Fujita EF scale, which was virtually unheard of: the strongest ever recorded so far was an EF-5. Weather forecasters and storm chasers were tagging this tornado at an unnbelievable EF-6 ... or maybe even stronger than that!
~To be continued.~