8:30 am: (awakened by loud radio weather alert)
“The United States Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for central ******* County until 9 am. A line of severe thunderstorms with cloud-to-ground lightning, wind gusts to 60 mph, possible nickel-sized hail, and heavy rain is moving in a southeasterly direction at 25 mph. If you are in your car, you are advised to pull over and find shelter…”
Now, being retired, unless I have an early appointment, I am often getting some of my most restful sleep at 8:30 am. I usually go to sleep in the wee hours listening to an all-night radio talk show, and wake up gently to another nationally-syndicated talk show. Waking up to an urgent TORNADO WARNING in my area was an unpleasant shock!
Sure enough, there was a thunderstorm going on outside, and there had been nothing in last night’s weather forecast predicting it. What to do? Well, first I hurriedly got fully dressed, and took my morning medications. Then I phoned my daughter, who does not normally listen to the radio or tv in the morning. Reached her on the second try, and she thanked me for the warning. The wind was fierce, thunder boomed, and the rain poured. But by now, there was only about 10 minutes left on the warning, and I didn’t really think anything was going to happen. I did know that if it continued to pour down rain, even at just 2 or 3 inches in an hour, there would be flash-flooding at the usual downtown intersections, some freeway access roads, and the low-lying areas. Dirt roads would be impassable for days, and even some paved roads would be closed.
Today we were lucky. I’d had no plans to go anywhere in my car, and my daughter had not been on her way to work. But we had not been so lucky at other times. And neither had the other people waking up to trees blown down in their yards, roofs damaged, and the 9,000 left without electric power today.
Later, as the rain slowed and the wind calmed, the birds returned to my feeders in the back yard, and I wondered yet again, how do they find shelter in a thunderstorm? How do they protect themselves and the young ones in their nests? (Sometimes they don’t.)
It seems to be storm season any time of the year now. There is no time of calm, “normal” weather anymore. It is the middle of May, and next month hurricane season begins……..and yet, as I write, I can hear the birds chirping noisily in the trees outside.
This is a beautiful, but dangerous planet that we live on…….but it’s the only one we’ve got.