By Darren Brown, News9.com INsite team
Spring has sprung, and you know what that means in Oklahoma -- WALL CLOUDS!
What a gas! If you're from here, you've come to accept our crazy weather, and probably appreciate a good lightning storm every now and then. If you're not, just give it some time--it kinda grows on you.
When I was growing up in Frederick, Okla., we had a storm siren right across the street from our house. It was one of those old school bus-yellow-colored ones that looked kinda like a multi-story birdhouse. It's probably still there. Anyway, it was loud--the kind of loud that made you jump nearly out of your skin every time you heard it, especially if you happened to be sound asleep. I didn't get much sleep during the spring months of '71 through '73. I was terrified of storms, mainly because of that stupid siren.
To combat my phobia, I had an elaborate nighttime ritual during those months. I would lay out my shirt, jeans, socks, and shoes on the floor next to my bed. Looked sort of like a person lying there. When the siren blew (like it did every other night), I could be dressed and ready to run in about 30 seconds. This was beneficial, because back then, my sister was only two or three, and my brother was even younger. All this readiness was at times a moot point, because we (mom, dad, sis, bro) still had to cross the street to the neighbors' backyard to get to the cellar.
I always thought going to the cellar was kinda cool. Our neighbors had an old kerosene lamp that we used, there were some chairs, and I think there was even a cot down there. I remember passing the time by counting rows of canned fruit and even cobwebs. Sometimes I was allowed to crawl out of the cellar and hang out on the porch with the men. This meant watching a group of old dudes smoke cigarettes and point towards the clouds, punctuated by the occasional, "It ain't comin' this way."
Well, one time it actually did. I'd never seen those old dudes move so fast! They barely got down the steps into the cellar when the winds kicked up. My dad and a couple other guys had to hold the door shut because they didn't get it latched in time. Man, it was just like that scene out of "Twister!"
I've done my share of storm chasing since then. I've seen tornados from the ground and from the air (by the way the best seat in the house). I've also seen the destruction they can bring. Do yourself a favor -- BE PREPARED. It wouldn't hurt to stay tuned to NEWS 9 and News9.com either. This isn't a commercial -- I'm just urging you to stay safe during storm season.
Oh, and be sure to keep your shoes where you can find 'em in a hurry.