Spooky wild and gusty; swirling dervishes of rattling leaves race by, fleeing the windflung deadwood that cracks and thumps behind.
~ Dave Beard
One of the scariest things about spring in the Midwest is the ever-present danger of tornadoes. As a child growing up in central Illinois, I remember stories my parents told of friends having homes blown away, of crops being flattened, and other such terrifying possibilities. My mom, for example, watched a tornado go behind her car by just a few miles. My father told stories of barns full of machinery and tools being leveled by the force of the wind. For years, I couldn’t stand to watch The Wizard of Oz, just because of the tornado scene.
Not long before my mother passed away, I remember getting the phone call that a tornado had gone through my hometown. And where was my mother? Watching it through the kitchen window. The same kitchen window that was directly behind the tree that ended up through the back window of the car. The same kitchen window that was next to the dining room, where a board from the shattered storage unit crashed through multiple layers of siding and house construction materials to wind up horizontally stuck into the back of the dining room hutch, from the outside of the house. The same kitchen window that was directly across from the large propane tank, which was later found in the middle of the front yard, on the other side of the house from where she stood.
Since moving to Ohio, however, I’ve learned that those fearsome tornadoes of my childhood were nothing to the King of Tornadoes of lore in these parts. We live just a few miles from Xenia, Ohio, which I have learned sort of functions like a tornado-magnet. The most famous of those, however, was the F-5 tornado which struck as part of a supercell of 148 tornadoes across the Midwest on April 3, 1974.That one killed 33 people and injured more than 1,300. Creating a path more than half a mile wide, it damaged more than $100 million of property in Greene County. (For more information and pictures, check out our Dayton Daily News blog post from 2011.)
Scary stuff, tornadoes are. What’s the closest weather disaster you’ve encountered?
[Note: This post is #24 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button at the right of the page for more information.]