It has come to my attention that when we were considering moving to North Alabama, nobody thought it was worth mentioning that this area is known for "inclement weather." We moved to South Huntsville on January 15th. Here are some images from the storm in Huntsville on January 21, just 6 days later.
We had our FIRST sunny day three weeks after we moved. I searched Google, Wikipedia, The Farmers Almanac, etc. to see if we'd unwittingly moved into some little-known black hole/armpit of the United States. There is no data on record under "armpit," but "tornado alley" dredged up some interesting information.
Our house is in the red on both maps. I assumed we'd be fine since we weren't moving to Oklahoma or Kansas - which serves me right for using Twister as an authoritative source on tornado information. And maybe if I lived in Kansas I'd have a storm shelter, or at least a basement.
We've spent a few solid hours in the hallway this year, sitting under a mattress and listening to the sirens.
And sometimes, when they test the sirens at 8:30am, I wake up in a panic, and get totally disoriented because birds are chirping and sunlight is streaming through the window. Woah. Am I dreaming? Twilight zone? Purgatory? Sirens FOREVER??? (And yes, sometimes I wake up after 8:30am. Don't judge me.)
The whole scenario reminds me of my roommate in college, who, every single time the fire alarm went off, woke up and walked in frantic circles around the room like a confused puppy. Then she would put on her bathrobe like a magical security blanket, and I could actually, physically see her sanity returning to her. Like it was floating down, down from wherever dreams are and it finally landed on her head. Her eyes lit up and she knew where she was in time and space again - and she remembered the protocol. By the end of the year we developed a system to help her get from dreamland to helpful RA partner more efficiently:
*Alarm! Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!*
Kate: "Elisha! Don't hit your head on the bunk. It's the fire alarm."
Elisha rolls out of bed and walks in three circles.
Kate: "PUT ON YOUR ROBE!"
Elisha puts on her robe and looks to me for further instruction.
Kate: "Now grab the paperwork and your keys."
Kate: "They're on your desk."
At this point we burst into laughter, Elisha gets her game face on, and finishes clearing her side of the hall in record time. Sigh, I miss her.
Dan is usually at work by the time I find myself running in circles listening to tornado sirens - so we have no such system.
Today was a tornado day. ALL. DAY. LONG.
Our mailman informed me around 11 this morning that the schools were letting out early because of the weather. The weather? You mean the blue skies and wispy clouds? Is the 80 degree weather too harsh, the sun too blistering? But I turned on the weather channel and sure enough - a giant red arc of nastiness was headed our way.
Fast forward one hour: Dan is home from work, sirens are blaring, I'm trying to lug our giant, saggy mattress into the hallway by myself (failing miserably), and Madeline is holding an angry Jasper by the haunches and yelling at him, "WE HAVE TO STAY IN THE HALLWAY, JASPER!"
It was cacophany. Sirens, on top of the weather channel (loud enough for us to hear it from the hallway), on top of cats moaning, on top of "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy," on top of thunder, and rain, and the BLAME WIND CHIME which was screaming as it hung on for dear life.
The weather radar looked like a minefield - red dots every 30 miles. By the time one storm cell passed another was upon us. The soundtrack to our afternoon was a meteorologist (with a terribly abrasive voice, like Gilbert Gottfried, but taken down a few notches) talking about "wall clouds," and "hooks in the system," and "rotation," and "tornadic winds."
There were probably 6 storms with "tornadic winds" that blew by us on all sides. Two came right through our little town, one crossed over our intersection. As in VISIBLE FROM MY HOUSE. My stress pimples and canker sores will be arriving first thing tomorrow morning. Score.
So. HOW, you might ask, do you get a two-year-old to sit in a hallway under a mattress for an entire afternoon/evening?
1. In my experience you would start with the "we're in a fort" thing. This works until the child realizes he/she is not allowed to leave the fort.
2. Then books. Books work for about 30 minutes, give or take, depending on the nerdiness of your child.
3. Then sunflower seeds, which works until your zealous child grabs a fistful of SHELLS and shoves them in his/her mouth. (I promise we feed her.)
4. Then bribery with M&Ms.
5. Then a blue Ring Pop from Grandmommy. (I promise we feed her real food.)
6. Then whatever you can reach by cracking open the bathroom door and fishing around. In my case, bath toys and a tampon.
By 6:30 all of our warnings and watches had expired and all that was left was a measly wind advisory. We are happy to report that there is no serious damage.
No immediate, physical damage I should say - because there's no telling what might happen to me in my sleepy stupor the next time they test the sirens at 8:00 in the morning.
Here are some viewer pictures from our local news station.