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Sunday, December 18, 2005

How's the Weather?

The problem with stormchasing is --

It's just too damned boring.

Wake up, find out it's a chase day, decide to go with the stormchaser guy you live with. Stormchaser guy is hanging on the internet, looking at surface winds and vapour images and whatnots, and figuring out where he thinks the storms will be, where he thinks the conditions will be best for severe weather.

I get ready to go.

And wait. And wait. While he keeps getting more data, maybe changing his mind, maybe just debating in circles trying to convince himself that he's not going to change his mind, and eventually...

We leave. Which generally means we have hours of driving ahead of us.

Hours and hours and hours. The sky is clear. A beautiful blue Texas sky, and he's pointing out a wisp of this or that and I'm nodding "attentively" while I read my book. Because that's the only way to cope with that kind of drive. Read.

We almost always end up driving in the right direction, passing under the right amount of clear Texas sky, so that we end up smack dab in the middle of where a storm is forming. That's rather remarkable, waking up with not a cloud over the entire state of Texas and having the stormchaser guy in residence draw a box on the state and say, "This is where it will be," and then get us there.

So he's there, and watching it form. Watching the clouds build. Watching for lightning/wall clouds/whatnot. Watching and watching and watching.

And maybe? Maybe we'll move around a bit to get a better position on it, a better vantage point.

Meanwhile I'm still reading.

"Hey -- get your head out of that book!"


That thing is BIG. And it's in front of us. And it's heading toward us.

He's videoing, and reporting in to the local Civil Defense RACES network. Sirens are going off around us because we're on the edge of a town. It's a haunting sound, those sirens, but we stay as long as we can, before taking our exit route.

I'm not reading any more.

We keep reporting, and keep following.

The tornado is losing strength, but still fierce. We drive along parallel to it for miles, reporting its progress and location.

And then it's gone.

Later when we pass back through that town, the Salvation Army is already there handing out free coffee and donuts to emergency workers. We hear about the two deaths -- parents. Their child is on the way via ambulance to a hospital in Amarillo. We wonder what failed -- did they not hear the sirens, or not take them seriously? Were they unable to get to safety? Did they not have any "safety" to get to? Because it's always a failure when despite the warnings, people die.

We make a donation to the Salvation Army. (They argue with us, try not to take it, try to give us free coffee, but we insist.)

It's almost dark, and trying to catch up with the storm systems is unlikely.

It's going to be a long drive home.

But that's okay.

I brought plenty to read.

(A best of holidailies exceptional entry.)


At 1:00 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

As I started to read your entry on getting ready, then waiting and waiting, my first thought was, "You've got to be a reader to be married to a stormchaser." And, yes, as I continued reading your entry, tis the case. Either that, or you knit. Or both. Great pictures, by the way.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger pooks said...

Well, some spouses are as interested in the prediction/observation/chasing parts as the chaser, which I guess makes them chasers, too. Me, I'm a reader.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Help me, Auntie Em!!

Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?

At 9:30 PM, Blogger pooks said...


At 11:10 AM, Blogger Candace said...

Congrats again on a Hollidaillies award -- exceptional entry, no less!! Pooks, I'm trying to catch up on your blog. I went back to the beginning because my memory's not too swift yet. Loved the writing (natch), and the pictures of the tornado were such a treat. Thanks!

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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