Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hair Raising Sound

There are few things on earth that cause me to get spooked. When I say spooked, I mean the kind of eerie feeling that makes your stomach queasy and causes a cold chill to go down your spine that ends up raising the hair on the back of your neck.

I’ve felt that way three times in the nine plus years since I moved to Texas.

It’s the feeling you get when you hear a tornado siren.

I’ve written many times about the awesome springtime storms that we experience in North Texas. I’m still unaccustomed to the rage within the thunderstorms that we get. In New York we’d get thunderstorms and some lightening, but nothing like what we get down here. The storms are awesome, and I often sit by the window just to watch the light show.

However, on occasion, the storms are so fierce that they require a bit more diligence. Last night was one such storm. Angie and I were watching a movie in my office when the storm hit. Right outside the window we experienced heavy rain, 70 MPH wind gusts, thunder and lightening. The kids were in bed and Angie commented how they were likely to join us. We turned off the movie and turned on the local news. I put some lights on and got a flashlight in preparation.

The kids didn’t join us – they are hardened to the storms. Dylan complains that he cannot sleep due to the noise on his window, but none of the kids are particularly scared by thunder and lightening – unlike me.

Angie and I noticed that the news wasn’t reporting a whole lot in the way of tornado warnings and the radar wasn’t showing rotations, so we decided to go back to our movie.

Then, things changed and changed fast.

I heard them first. I turned to Angie, “You hear that?” She said “no”.

I muted the movie. The sounds of distant tornado horns could be clearly heard. They sounded like they were from another town, and not the sirens in Rowlett. There are two sirens relatively close to the house and they would have sounded much louder. However, they were loud enough. Marissa joined us first, followed by Dylan. They were scared, but (truth be told) not nearly as scared as me. In fact, my fear has become a little bit of a joke with the kids. Although I try to keep a tough exterior so they aren’t scared, tornados are terrifying to me. Give me a hurricane any day because that is what I grew up on – and they were typically infrequent and weak by the time they got to Long Island. Tornados are killers and I have never been sensitized to them.

We watched the local news and they started to report about the rotations in the front end of the storm. By the time that they formed, they were past us. Those were the horns we heard. I’m still not sure if anything every touched down or not, but I tend to think not since the news isn’t reporting anything except for wind damage. Unfortunately, that cannot be said for Oklahoma, as it appears they had three tornados touch down with this storm, one of which killed several people.

I remember very clearly the other tornado sirens that I’ve heard. I blogged about the previous one from April 2007. The other was from several years before that as a new Texan. I was working late one evening and heard a funny sound. I didn’t know what the wail of the siren was, but I did get that creepy feeling. Only later did I learn that there had been a tornado.

You know, now that I think about it, it’s the same feeling I got when I experienced a small earthquake in Southern California. Mother nature can be awesome!

I sure do miss those hurricanes.



Travis Erwin said...

Growing up in tornado alley the sound of one or the sirens doesn't really scare me, but I have a hunting story that I'll blog one of these days. it involves a mountain lion and that sound sure gets my heart pumping.

ChefMichele said...

Well maybe you should move to FL. My first season living in Central FL was definitely up your alley!! Three hurricanes hit within a 2 month period, and I was only living there for a couple months. A hurricane had not hit central Fl in over 25 years, and I move down and they get three in a row. The first one was Charlie, and let me tell you, not only was I crawled up in my bed surrounded by pillows in the dark, I was in AWE. I kept going to the window to see the palm trees bending like they were made of rubber and the horizontal rain. I was scared, very scared. During the eye, I was in more awe than I thought possible. I actually went outside to look at the sky. Amazing site, you could see the ring of the hurricane and the clear star filled sky within the ring. NY hurricanes, and I do remember them as a kid, are nothing compared to a category 3 or 4 hurricane in Fl. So when you say you will take a hurricane over a tornado, I have to chuckle. I have never heard or been thru a tornado and God willing will never have to. 3 hurricanes were enuf for me. I do miss the lightening shows I would sit on my patio and watch them. Incredible light shows sent down by Heaven!!