When I woke up that Sunday morning, on May 22, 2011, I knew something big was going to happen in the weather department. Already the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) in Norman, Oklahoma, were telling people in the South and Midwest to be on their guard, as there was a very good liklihood of severe storms in these areas, including the possibility of dangerous, long-lived tornadoes.
It was rather warm for middle May, and as I remember correctly, oppressively humid. It was hard to catch a deep breath and you broke out into a sweat immediately upon stepping outside. The skies were a pale, pale blue, with bright, wall-to-wall sunshine: there was no inkling about any storms whatsoever.
Around 2 in the afternoon, the SPC ( as well as the National Weather Service) put out a weather bulletin: a tornado watch would be likely for our area. And sure enough, one was issued at roughly 2-3 in the afternooon; storms were already starting to pop up ahead of the combination dry-line/cold front.
What made this situation even more dire was the fact that the watch was not just any watch: it was a PDS (potentially dangerous situation) watch, meaning that the threat for severe weather was very hgih; we'd be best to be on our guard. The news was talking about it and so was the local weather forecasters and storm-spotters.
By now, the once pure pale-blue sky was becoming dotted with clouds; as the minutes went by it seemed more clouds appeared, and they became more and more numerous (not to mention, darker and maybe containing rain). Still, despite the clouds, we were determined to go about our busines of the day. As for me, I was thinking about church and what to make for supper beforehand.
Around four, four thirty, the sky was not the once-friendly one it had been for a good part of the day: it looked like it meant business. Thunder rumbled off in the distance and if you looked to the south and west, one could see lightning flashing quite repeatedly. This was no ordinary storm; already the weather radios were sounding off warnings, warnings telling that tornadoes had been sighted and the weather foreasters on television wre warning people to get to a safe place, preferably to a basement, or if none were available, to the center of the room on the lowest floor, away from any windows.
And what made it even scarier: the storms were headed right this way from the west and southwest. And there was a tornado in this particular band of storms!
At that, I grabbed my husband and kids and shoved them into the basement; we then went into the room underneath the stairs and held onto each other tight. Suddenly supper and church services were the last things on our minds.
~To be continued!~