Thursday, February 07, 2008

Why I Love My Basement

If you haven't been living under a rock, you may have heard that we've had some pretty nasty weather down here in my beloved South. It has been, in a word, wild.

Due to Super Tuesday, the schools in our district were closed for students, but faculty and staff reported for an in-service. As far as in-service days go, this one was actually quite worthwhile as we had a very detailed presentation on gang awareness as well as some information on new special education laws. However, many of us were heard to mutter "Glad the kids aren't here as the weather will probably get nasty." We will remember our earlier run-in with bad weather in January, and I don't think any of us wanted to get stuck at school with our kids during a tornado. The fact of the matter was that it's just been too warm for February. We hit a record high of 72 degrees on Tuesday, and when it's that high this time of year, you know that cold weather is just around the corner. And when cold fronts and warm air hit, you get bad weather.

And man, did we get bad weather.

I was trying to watch the hockey game that evening when it started up. First, lots of wind. Lots and lots of wind. Then lightning, thunder, and heavy, heavy rain. I have a NOAA weather radio and it was beeping alerts every few minutes. The hockey game I was trying to watch had lost the audio and was intoning that computerized voice that told all of us that bad weather was on the way. (By the way, watching a hockey game without audio is a bit weird.) Around 8:30 I started moving some valuables down to the basement because it was making even me nervous. A few minutes later the sirens went off, so I tucked two cats under my arms and took them downstairs, ran up and got another cat, and then headed down there myself, closing the door behind me.

As an aside, when I had to buy a house down here Mr. Bluebird wasn't able to come down and help. His only request was I get a house with a finished basement because he thought this area had too many tornadoes. That I did, thank goodness.

I spent about 45 minutes down there before the warning expired and I was able to let the cats, who were really annoyed, back upstairs. I didn't, however, move anything else up as I had a feeling we weren't done.

We weren't.

Around midnight the second wave of storms woke me up. It was pounding and the lightning was flashing like a strobe light. I looked out the window and thought, for a moment, that it was foggy outside as I couldn't see the houses across the street clearly. It took me a minute to realize that it wasn't fog, it was just really heavy, heavy rain. I went out to the living room to turn on the news to see if we were under a warning when the sirens went off again. (I also managed to buy a house that has a tornado siren at the end of the street - when these things go off, we hear them.)
Grabbed cats and hustled everyone downstairs where I stayed until about one in the morning.

This last round was really bad. The hail was bouncing all over my deck before I headed to the basement and the sirens went on and on and on. Usually they'll sound off about 4 times before they stop, but this time I could hear them going on for a significantly longer time.

Of course, by the time it had all passed I was wide awake. I tried to go back to sleep but I was still awake an hour later when Mr. Bluebird arrived home from his trip back from Ohio. He'd dodged supercells the whole way home, hunkering down in gas stations and truck stops when it got so bad he couldn't drive.

The next day at school the kids were dragging. Many of them told me they'd spent the night sleeping in basements, their closets, or bathrooms. Shreck Boy was exhausted. He'd spent the night in the basement after the roof of their house began to lose shingles and the rain started to come in. Some kids told me about huge trees coming down in their yards, trampolines slinging through the neighborhood and ending up blocks away, and barns crashing down. The western edge of our county got hit really hard by a thunderstorm that destroyed one house and damaged at least 13 more. The tornadoes that ripped through the state, amazingly, rose back up in the air before they got very far within the county and we were spared a lot of the damage other counties are facing.

Last year, during the height of the drought, we didn't have one single tornado warning. This year, so far, we've had the sirens go off three times.

And it's February. Tornado season doesn't really begin until March.

Kind of makes me appreciate the basement.


Kim said...

I'm so thankful you are okay.

Here in California we have earthquakes, but they are few and far between. They catch you by surprise and by the time you realize you should be ducking and covering, most of them are over. Since I was born and raised here, they are just something I live with without much thought.

I can't imagine doing the same with tornado season. I don't know how you do it.

I'm so glad you didn't have to share that you lost any students - you didn't, did you.

EHT said...

Somehow we avoided the bad weather this time though we often get it as well when you do. I think we are in for a very bumpy season this year.

In the past I've tried to teach after a night like yours. It's impossible. I've learned to do review games, etc. to keep us awake and moving at least until the buses arrive to take everyone home again.