06 September 2015

A look back at April 27: weather=chaos

Looking back to April 27, 2011 living in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

The weather man had called for tornadoes for over a week. 
The entire Southeastern part of the U.S.  was aware of the potential "severe" weather. But not of the devastation that was to come. 

I, a native of Western Oklahoma know my fair share about severe weather, thunder heads, hail, tornadoes, storm cellars, tornado drills, ect. 

Being a then resident of North Georgia, this common-knowledge I was brought up with was a taboo topic in my new home. "We don't get tornadoes, here" was an often heard comment from the locals. 

Boy, were they wrong on this day. This great city I know now as my home was shaken by over    10 tornadoes on this day. Several lives were lost and a city my sisters grew up in was demolished. Their high school was ripped to shreds and one of their high school classmates and his family lost their lives. 

My heart breaks when I think back to this day. 
The frantic mothers calling children, aunts and uncles calling Mom and Pop. 
It was a devastating day. 

From dawn to mid-evening storms wrecked havoc in the North GA/Tennessee Valley. 

School was cancelled early due to severe weather, that most overlooked because "We don't get tornadoes here". 

As, I drove back to my job with my children in tow, I gazed at the sky, bubble clouds as I used to call them back home with a slight tinge of green. 

Oh, No was my first thought. 

I must get to work quickly, it's about to hit. 

As, hail pounded my car, I pulled into my job, kids in tow. I warned the other employees that we must get to the basement immediately. 

They brushed me off. 
"It's just a little rain, we don't get tornadoes here". 
At this moment, my dear friends house was being demolished by trees. Unbeknownst to her, this was only the beginning. 

This day will bring back several negative memories for myself and my family and friends. 
But, also a sense of humility, adoration and love. 

I learned as a new resident to the South. 
We DO get tornadoes here. 
We are not prepared for tornadoes, ever. 
The weather guy really enjoys pulling false alarms on people. 
Mother Nature is NO joke. 

General terminology that all Southerns Need to Know:
•Rain- simple definition water falling from the sky, no potential severe weather, just Momma N watering the land. 
• Thunderstorm- rain, lightening and thunder. Low chance of severe weather unless you are wearing metal and standing on top of a roof. Lightening strikes to people are pretty rare. 
• Severe thunderstorm- rain, lightening, thunder, hail, wind. 
This type of weather can be very dangerous. Take cover until the skies clear. Watch out for flying debris, falling branches and wear a bucket on your head to prevent damage to your done if it's hailing outside. 
• Tornado Watch- this means the atmospheric pressure is good enough for a potential tornado to hit the area. There may be some rotation in clouds in another area, where a severe thunderstorm is present.  This does NOT mean, one has been spotted, this does NOT mean drive like a maniac on the way to the store for bread and milk. 
This is usually followed in the springtime by a Severe Thunderstorm coming from the Texas area. (historically speaking)
• Tornado Warning- This means a tornado has been spotted, take shelter immediately. Usually high wind, heavy rain, dark greenish skies, large hail, thunder, lightening. Very dangerous. 

The best places for shelter in Your home: Bathtub with a mattress over you ( to protect your head), basement, storm cellar, inner most room in your home on the ground level away from windows and potential flying debris. 

Now, I am not a meteorologist. But, as I stated earlier, I grew up with this weather. We were prepared, Gary England was the greatest weather man in the universe everyone loved him and his fantastic insight on severe weather and tornado alley, where I call home. 

I just hope, in the future we here in the South take a deeper look at the weather, try to educate ourselves and our children and never forget the devastation that Tornadoes and severe weather may cause. 

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