When a Tornado is Attacking, DON'T Do These Things

Damage in Tupelo, Miss., 1935 from a tornado

Lest we forget

It's a date akin to Dec. 7, 1941.

It's a date that we, the survivors, all pray to forget.

April 27, 2011. A day that may not live in infamy as President Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941, the day that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, but in retrospect, this April afternoon was something straight out of the Hollywood special effects wizards in its true fear being manifested in sight and in sound. I would love to describe it in true detail, but I cannot do it.

April 27, 2011, Hackleburg, Alabama

This "beast" even looks frightful
This "beast" even looks frightful
Damage from a tornado in Anoka, Minnesota 1937
Damage from a tornado in Anoka, Minnesota 1937

April 27, 2011: A day of destructiion

But I can compare it to the sound of a squadron of F-18 fighter jets taking off to do battle somewhere with an advancing adversary. Terrible and humbling at the same time. I know. I was standing in my backyard on this frightful Wednesday as I heard this shaking, eye-opening, life-shaking power fly through the air on its way to the destruction of two towns that I know well: Hackleburg, Alabama and Smithville, Mississippi. I remember the chills that ran up my back.

If you have never heard an F-18 fighter jet leave the runway, then draw to memory the opening minutes of "The Wizard of Oz," where "Dorothy," and her family and doting workhands are scurrying to get inside the storm cellar as we see a terrifying twister in the background. But sadly, "Dorothy," doesn't make it inside the storm cellar. She is knocked unconscious inside the house and taken on a magnificent journey to "Munchkin Land," on her way to "Oz."

Fiction---scene from 1939 class, The Wizard of Oz

Tornado damage in Higgins, Texas, 1947

There's nothing good about tornadoes

It's that terrible. Grown men who know fear on a first-name basis can be brought down to the mentality of a toddler when exposed to such violence.

Yet there are people who are so into themselves, they actually dare this awesome work of nature by, God forgive me, being fools by ignoring weather experts sending vital warnings for people to take cover immediately. Why? I do not know. A pure case of "fool's bravery."

Tornadoes resemble life in that they are here for what seems a fading moment, then they are gone--leaving a trail of pain, weeping, destruction, and death lingering for years.

A twister approaches Kansas City, 1957

The look of terror
The look of terror
Tornado outbreak from April 27, 2011
Tornado outbreak from April 27, 2011
Tornados can be unpredictable in the pathways that they follow
Tornados can be unpredictable in the pathways that they follow
A paradox: Beauty and destruction
A paradox: Beauty and destruction
A tornado's image is always overwhelming
A tornado's image is always overwhelming
Scene from Hackleburg, Ala., April 27, 2011
Scene from Hackleburg, Ala., April 27, 2011

Please read this list below and since we are now entering, "Severe Weather Preparedness" season, try to not be like any of the things on this list.

When a Tornado is Attacking, DON'T Do These Things

SHOW THEIR BRAVADO -- bravery is great, but foolish when standing on a balcony or the ground daring a force of nature whose power cannot be fully-measured by the best of expert meteorologists.

THROW "SURVIVAL" PARTIES -- this happens in Florida and on the east coast where tornado's equally-explosive first-cousins, the hurricanes travel. People will have their equally-foolish friends grab a few dozen bottles of liquor, put on Rick James and dance their way out of this life for ignoring the warnings of local authorities save their life by heeding their warnings to "leave town. Now."

BE COMPLACENT -- in the mindset that says, "We've lived here 30 years and tornadoes (and hurricanes) have went around us. Okay. What about the 31st year? How can you know that far into the future if you will live or die? Be smart. Obey the weather warnings. This will not show that you are weak, but wise.

GAZING OUT WINDOWS -- when a tornado attacks. Just the sheer wind speed of an F-5 tornado can drive a pine needle into a concrete wall. I know men who helped with the clean-up of damage left by tornadoes and they witnessed this feat and swore that they had never seen such power. So what do you think that a window will be your best defense against this much wind speed?

AMATEUR STORM-CHASING -- is not a wise thing to do. Storm chasers as they are called, must pass a rigorous series of tests before they can be considered "experts." Even the Weather Channel broadcasters who work in the field must know what to do and what not to do while a tornado is approaching. So avoid trying to be a "hero behind the wheel," and let the experts do the storm chasing.

IGNORING LIGHTNING -- and I do not know the answer why. I personally have a healthy respect for the power of lightning. It's beautiful to the eye, but can fry any appliance or burn anything in its pathway. Respect ligtning as much as you do the roar of a tornado.

TALKING ON THE PHONE -- is not wise either. Lightning has been known to "run in" over the phone lines (before wireless days) and strike the person on the phone causing a lot of physical damage. If you are talking on a "land line" instead of a cell phone, tell the other person you are hanging-up for a tornado is coming. Do not let manners cause you any form of hurt.

JUST PLAIN IGNORING -- the fact that you may already have a place of safety for you and your family to go when a tornado is headed your way. Go and squat down in a hallway or the smallest room of your house and this might mean the difference between life and death. Let your ignorance be turned into wisdom.

USING MYTHICAL MINDSETS -- such as, "If God wants to take me, He can find me in any storm cellar." Correct. But also not wise. God gave all living things common sense. Even the smallest of microbes have common sense. So why shouldn't you use what God blessed you with and do wise things to avoid injury, even death to your family and friends when facing a tornado? God just might be pleased at your love for family and friends.

RELAXING OUTSIDE -- in lawn chairs and just watching to see if the tornado heads your way. Do not gamble with this event. Your life and the lives around you are far more priceless than a foolish gamble on if a twister will head your way or go around.

Note: At first, this was going to be a humor-based piece. But the more I thought about it, writing this hub in a serious-fashion made more sense.

Fact--April 27, 2011, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

F-5 tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama chased by storm chasers. In the background you hear James Spann, Chief meteorologist for television station, ABC 33/40, Birmingham. This tornado was filmed as it was causing havoc on the ground in Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, one of the worst days in Alabama history. This tornado was just one of three tornadoes gone wild that destroyed the towns of Smithville, Miss. and Hackleburg, Ala. Hackleburg is a fifteen-minute drive from my home.

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Comments 12 comments

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 20 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Kenneth - A marvelous article deserving HOTD! Such great information for all of us. I say all of us because tornadoes are no longer reserved for their well-known areas. We've even had a few small ones here in California. The weather is no longer predictable.

I voted up, UAI and will share everywhere.

With every breath, you are love. - Audrey


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dearest vocalcoach,

You are among my first followers. And I do not thank you enough. So thank you for such a touching and moving comment.

I loved it.

You are right. Tornadoes can hit anywhere. I remember April 3, 1974, when a small town south of Hamilton, Al., my hometown was completely destroyed: Guin. A plaque hangs there today of all the deceased and there is still a girl who has never been found.

It still sends chills up my spine.

My dear vocalcoach, thank you for the sweet visit and do come back anytime. Love you .


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 20 months ago

I would not do any of those things with a tornado on its way. We get watches, a few warnings, and have had an occasional passing tornado. Luckily none came that close to my house.

Cloud-to-ground lightning is something else. We have storms all summer with it in them and occasionally through the rest of the year.

In NJ I never heard of that lightning and even though I had heard of them we never had tornadoes.

I voted it up, shared and pinned it.

Kevin


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

The Examiner-1,

Good. You are a wise man. Here in the south where I live in titled, "Tornado Alley," and now, April through the spring and summer, the event of severe weather is always a possibility.

I have a great respect for tornadoes and all that goes with them.

Thank you for your super-nice comment and have a peaceful week.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 20 months ago

I know that you receive more in AL than I do here in GA. I receive mostly warnings.

Kevin


Genna East profile image

Genna East 20 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

I can’t imagine being anywhere near these terrible things…they frighten me so. Nor can I imagine what it is like to live through one, and the devastation left behind. There are now words. We have hurricanes -- a distant cousin – and they’re bad enough. I have heard opposing arguments about hiding underneath an overpass to avoid an oncoming tornado; some say, it is safe; others say, don’t do it. This is a terrific article, and one that should be read by many. It is amazing how some people don’t listen to common sense. Perhaps they don’t have any? Voted way up and shared.


favored profile image

favored 20 months ago from USA

I like your choice of words for the title. We don't think of these devil storms as attacks, but that's exactly what they are ...they come to kill, steal and destroy what's in their path. (John 10:10)

Last year we attended storm chaser classes, not to become one but to learn how to identify the different storms. It was very helpful. Also it is natural to want to gaze out the window, but it's so dangerous. Very good timing for this article. I hope people take these suggestions to heart. Excellent advice Kenneth. Happy to share this.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

favored,

Thank you, dear friend, for your sweet comment. I loved it. Yes, John 10:10 says a lot to us if we listen.

And thank you for sharing this.

Please come back and visit anytime. Be blessed.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

The Examiner - 1,

You are a blessed person as to just receive bulletins.

Down here in Dixie, we get the real deal and I have a healthy respect for tornadoes.

Have a good day my friend.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Genna,

Thanks dear friend for your honest and moving comment to which I agree with your views on tornadoes.

Being in a hallway or smallest room of the house is good advice, but like you, it's tough to find a place when you are scared to death.

Have a great day, Genna. Visit with me anytime.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 20 months ago

GA is farther away from the line/area that gets them up through the midwest Kenneth.

Kev


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Examier-1,

You are correct.

During this time of year, I stick close to any meteorologist who admits that he/she is not right 100% of the time.

Have a safe night, my friend.

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