The weather we had more than a week and a half ago is something typical we see during these stormy spring months. The battle of the seasons happens in Oklahoma and it seems that we are capable of standing on the "50 yard line" just about any day in Spring!
As many are well aware, I married a lovely lady from Pompano Beach, Florida, back in March. This location - near the southern tip of Florida - is familiar with swaying palm trees, sun-drenched skin and coconut rum, not tornadoes or even pea-sized hail!
How did my wife, Sharon, handle her first bout of tough Oklahoma severe weather? It was a rough start but she caught up to speed very quickly.
Over the last month, I have been letting her know some of the things she needs to understand about being prepared for severe weather. Since I am a born and raised Okie, much of this is just second nature and you learn not to fear the storms but respect their power. She has come in with a bit of fear as many people do who are not familiar with Oklahoma weather.
She is so cute in her inexperience and has asked some great questions. Here is one of my favorites, which she OK'd me to share: "Why don't people just hide in their chimneys? Whenever I've seen hurricane or tornado damage, that is the part of the house that always seems to be standing!"
I thought that was a fantastic question and it made me laugh some, but being in a chimney is not the safest place. The safest place is the middle of the house, lowest level; you should put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible. And actually, I'm not sure either of us could fit in a chimney?? She makes me smile!
On the Friday afternoon that Norman was hit by a tornado, I came home that morning, sat with her and said seriously, "Listen, I may have to go back into work this afternoon for storms, so if you are staying here, you know where to go in the house. Make sure you have your helmet and have your shoes on if you have to take cover. I left the room and came back to a teary and quiet wife. I was shocked and put my hand on her arm and said," What's wrong, honey?" She said, sobbing, "...I don't own a helmet!"
Obviously, weather consumes my life, so I can be a bit dense to her sensitivity. I felt so bad but again her innocence was so cute! For those of you that don't know or remember, head trauma is the worst injury and most likely injury to cause death during a tornado. If a tornado hits, sharp and jagged debris will litter the ground so shoes will be needed to keep from getting any additional injuries.
Yes, we did get her a helmet to wear! Here is a picture of me demonstrating for her how to put it on. I was trying to make her laugh. The attempt was a success; so successful that she snapped pictures of me doing it! HA!
I was on call that Saturday with the schedule set for me to cover the storms as they moved into the state later that night. Sharon and I sat down to watch some of the coverage from home. At first, she was a bit nervous, dismissive and didn't want to watch, but I asked her to come in so I could teach her some things as the coverage ensued. She was a bit upset at first at the storm trackers for talking over her head using words like, "occluded meso' and "wall cloud," but as I gave her a personal lesson on that terminology, she began to warm up and watching for clouds, in her words, "hanging down," and "dark and ominous" clouds.
I was trying to explain something and she belted out, "Look at it! It's lowering...I see a funnel...Look at the three spinning things on the ground!!" I saw her confidence beaming as the two tornadoes began forming near Cherokee! She showed me that she is a very quick and eager learner. That made me smile to know in her first attempt she is getting the hang of understanding our crazy weather. I'm proud of her.
And that makes this Oklahoma weatherman very happy!