Saturday, May 15, 2010

West Texas Weather

I love west Texas weather - the saying goes, "If you don't like it, stick around an hour, and it'll change!" Ninety percent of the time you can count on hot and dry. I like hot and dry. And you will get the occasional thunderstorm - also a favorite of mine. I love the way the lightning just puts on a show, and the thunder is loud and exciting. I remember one time when we had our exchange student, Eliska, with us and we were driving in a thunderstorm, and she was just in awe. She said they didn't have thunder and lightning like that in the Czech Republic.

However, my last thunderstorm experience is one I wouldn't care to repeat! Friday, I had some errands to run, and it had been cloudy all day, but no big deal. As any west Texan will tell you, clouds don't mean nothin. So, we get a couple of errands done, and then it starts to rain...a normal, hard, driving pour-down rain, almost like what it would be like standing at the bottom of a waterfall. Now, those usually don't last too long - maybe 30 minutes, so we go along with our errands. One of those is to go to Toys R Us to get a present for a birthday party that Levi is going to. While we are in there, Steve calls to tell me that there is a tornado warning, and they are all in the basement at church. I am in Toys R Us, so what are you gonna do? A car is one of the worst places you can be in a tornado, but I have a feeling this big, warehouse type building wouldn't be much better. So, Joey & I finish our shopping and then join the rest of the shoppers standing in the foyer just watching it rain. And I'm trying to decide what to do. I really need to go get Lily from school. But what if I'm driving into a tornado?

Now, I'm not one to be scared of tornadoes. I've lived in tornado alley all my life, and I remember the news guy on the TV saying, "Take cover! Take cover immediately!" And my dad would just be sitting there. And I would say, "Ummm? Do you think we ought to take cover?"
"Naahh." He'd say. And we never did. But I got to tell you, it was a little different being a parent and knowing that I had one child with me in a less-than-safe location, and 3 other children and my husband scattered all over the town. So, at one point the rain seemed to be letting up, and one other family started to leave, so I decided we would go to. So, I run out to my car, getting completely soaked - like there is water running down my back and into my crack - nice. I pull my car up to the store to go get Joey where I left him with a store employee, and my phone rings. It is Steve and he says that an actual tornado has been seen, and not to leave, and right then a store employee says the same thing. So, we get out of the car and go back into the store to wait.

We wait some more and then the rain has almost stopped. I call Steve and he says that the tornado warning will expire at 2, and so I decide to go ahead and go get Lily-Grace. That's when the fun starts. The roads are a freakin river - like white-water rapids! It is over the curbs, and there are cars stalled out everywhere. There are fire trucks and ambulances and police cars everywhere, and you feel a little like you are in a disaster area. Then, about 2 minutes into our journey it starts to rain hard again, and then to hail. Oh joy. You know they say not to drive into water if you can't see the bottom? I've done it. It ain't fun. I was following this other SUV that was smaller than me, so I figured if he made it, so could I. Unfortunately he wasn't going the same place I was. I finally figured out the residential streets were much less flooded, so I would try and stay with those. At every intersection, I would just look down the streets to see if I could actually see the road, and if I could, it was worth turning down. 30 minutes later, we ended up at Lily's school.

The ride home was worse. If I could've harnessed the tension in my shoulders, I feel like I could've powered a small town. And Lily, sensing my distress, would try to encourage me, "Don't worry, Mama, it's just like we are a boat in the ocean!" Um, yeah, that helps. That was exactly what it felt like though. At one point, we stopped at this intersection where everyone was just stopped on all four sides, staring it down. This particular intersection didn't have anybody stalled out, which was actually bad for the rest of us because we couldn't see how deep the water was. Just about the time I decide I am not going to be the one to brave it, this car, car mind you, not an SUV, not a truck, decides to make a go of it. The water is coming up over its hood! And at about the same time, these 2 guys jump out of their car and start to run into the water to cross the street. And they are falling down because the water is running so fast, and Lily goes, "Mama! What are those guys doing? They're scaring me!"
"Yeah, they're scaring me too, baby." Is this world going crazy? So, it has now been almost an hour, and I guess all the craziness finally gets to Lily because she loses her cheery encouragement when all the water starts to wash up over our windshield when we are going through some deep water, and she starts to wail, "Oh no! We can't see! Dooomm! Dooomm!" At this point I knew we were almost home, and it actually made me laugh. But, I would be very happy if we never had to do that again. I've decided thunderstorms are only good if you are home in a nice, dry house.

I told Steve he had to pick up the boys because I was done, and his 2 mile trek turned into an hour long event too. And then a few hours later the sun was peeking through the clouds and the waters were receding. But doom was still living in my shoulders!


  1. If it makes you feel any better, Brice absolutely loved his gift!! But I am so sorry you had to go through all of that!!

  2. I have many, many memories of all 4 of us "hunkering down" during a tornado warning and our dads on the back porch saying, "Can you see it?? Eh, we're fine." Meanwhile our moms are going on about what morons our dads are for standing out there in the middle of a storm. heeeee

    (PS I heart Lily. "DOOOM DOOOM!" is my favorite saying now!)