Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spontaneous Science Lesson

How my kids and I survived a Tornado:

So, it's been a crazy day all around. I'm hosting a Tastefully Simple party tomorrow for my clients so I've gone through every inch of my house cleaning it all up - even the closets, which any homeschooler will tell you ends up a catch all of homeschooling miscellany.

First thing this morning we did grocery shopping (our usual Friday morning event) then I had to train a client. Then I had to return $26 in bottles & cans (like a years our drier died it's slow agonizing death, so I had to drag all our laundry and 2 kids to the laundromat. I tried to get my DH to get a ride home from a friend but, no, I had to stuff all the now clean clothes in to the trunk so I could have both front seats clear for the adults.

They'd been warning of severe thunderstorms all was humid as heck. As we got on the highway to go get hubby I could see a cloud of utter blackness coming in our direction from the west. Now, we live in Connecticut, so there aren't tornado's here. Maybe an F1 at most every couple of years.

As a homeschooler, every unusual occurrence is an opportunity for learning. So, I'm pointing out the different types of clouds. The front of the storm was clearly delineatedin the distance. I'm explaining the clearly visible line between the low and high pressure fronts meeting - producing the storm at it's point of intersection (I took a year of meteorology as a part of my Geology double major). I'm also pointing out the cumulo-nimbus clouds that produce severe thunderstorms and the kids eagerly watched lightening streak in the distance while we baked in the sun, in bumper to bumper traffic...while I pray we're not stuck in said traffic when the storm hits. I even discussed safe places to go if a hurricane or tornado strikes - how if we're on the road the safest place is lying perfectly flat in a ditch, or at home it's under the stairs or in the basement away from windows.

It begins to rain as the sky darkens.

We pull into the parking lot of my hubby's office and I leave him a voice mail that we made it a couple of minutes early. (I can't just walk into his office as you need an electronic key to open the door). As we sit in our usual spot wind gusts begin. Sheeting the rain against the car. The kids begin to get nervous (as did I).

After maybe 45 seconds of darkness, wind and rain the air pressure in the car plummeted - I thought my ears would bleed from the pressure. I decided we'd wait for dad under the car port on the other side of the building (it's reserved parking for the big wigs but they usually aren't there). I had made it maybe 20 yards when quarter sized hail erupted from the sky. Visibility turned to near zero as I tried to navigate around the building. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph battering the car. I keep talking calmly as the kids are no longer enjoying the spontaneous science lesson (and I worry that the windshield will shatter at any moment). We barely made it into the car port without crashing into the pylons (as I couldn't see them until I almost hit one).
Once we're under the car port I turn off the car and my 5 y/o rockets out of his car seat into my lap - completely terrified. The huge air conditioning unit across the drive is visibly rattling. The wind getting much much worse, hail still plummeting.

At this point I begin to worry that the tunneling effect of the carport will just make us more of a target if any of the trees or the blasted air-conditioning unit are tossed around.

So, I give into the kids terrified yearning to get inside...I wasn't even sure if the back door didn't also require a key card...but the cell service had shut down by that point, so I told the kids we were going to run the 8 feet or so to the back door. My 7 y/o opened the door for all of a second before slamming it screaming in terror. I couldn't possibly carry both kids, so I told them to come on, and we ran into the building.

Some idiot (thank all the Gods) had propped open both of the back doors so for a few minutes we stood in the basement watching the sky open up. When the trees in front of us began cracking in half I took them into the stairwell and up the one flight to the lobby, where my hubby was frantically pacing staring out the front of the building, believing we were caught somewhere in the storm as we weren't parked in our usual spot. The power had gone out in his building apparently while I was battling the hail. Which is why none of the calls to his office were answered and he didn't get my message on his cell phone before cell service cut off.

Maybe 5 minutes later it was all over, only still raining. The kids had barely stopped screaming at that point - my 5 y/o telling everyone in my DH's office to run fast before the flood starts. (Huh? lol) He nervously, repeatedly checked the skylights from the stairwell where I kept them - asking repeatedly if they would break.

Our usual 10 minute drive home turned into a 70 minute drive in circles. Almost every back road around his office was blocked off with downed trees and power lines. The highway was at a dead stop since the 2 interstates in our area also had trees scattered across the road (completely blocking access to one of our main state highways).

I still can't believe it! Sure it was only a micro-burst, but I have a whole new respect for anyone who lives in tornado alley. I'll take a blizzardor hurricane over that any day!!!! I think the most amazing part was seeing the utter destruction of nature and property all around my husband's work, none of the street lights working, practically being able to draw the path of the storm from the destruction alone...then driving down our street - about 15 miles away from my husbands work - and not a single leaf had been blown off of a single tree. Apparently just a normal storm had passed over our house while Mother Nature wreaked havoc in the next town over. What an amazingly powerful thing nature is!!!

Here's some pic's of where we were:
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