Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I have survived the tornadoes! We had a scary line of storms move through our area last night. Fortunately for me, my house and car and trees are all still mostly intact. When those sirens go off it scares me to death. It doesn't seem to bother my husband, but he's never been through a tornado. (Anyway, last night he was on the train coming home and missed the whole thing.)

I've been through several tornadoes. When I was little, my dad used to make us kids get in the bathtub and put a mattress over us any time it seemed like a tornado was about to demolish our house. (We didn't have a basement or storm cellar.)

Weather warnings weren't as precise as they are today, but he could tell just by looking at the sky and watching the wind. We never lost our roof, but once the wind was so high it blew debris through a window. That particular tornado flattened a church about a mile from our house, then churned through some trees and took off a couple of roofs at the end of our street.

Storms fascinate me, and several years ago I happened to read a newspaper article about storm chasers, and I knew I had to find out more. I tracked these guys down and begged them to take me with them. I went on three different trips with the chasers in their vans and trucks bristling with antennae and high-tech equipment (just like in "Twister"!). The first two trips were busts--I was in far more danger of dying from our vehicle hitting a cow than from any storm. Third time, though, we ended up smack in the middle of a killer tornado in Oklahoma. I still remember the tennis-ball-sized hail hitting the van--it sounded like gunfire. I was trying not to scream and cower so as not to humiliate myself in front of the boys. I never actually saw the funnel, though, because of all the rain.

The guys claimed we were never in danger, that they knew precisely where the storm was and were never directly in its path.

Of course, for me there's no point in such thrill-seeking behavior unless I’m going to write about it. I've put tornadoes in at least three books (plus a couple of storms at sea in other books). I even wrote a whole book about storm-chasers. Whenever I’m plotting a book and I get stalled, I'm always tempted to throw in a tornado. The awesome power and sheer unpredictability of a big storm can sure liven up a story.


Roxann Delaney said...

Oh, Kara, I'm so glad you're okay! I have a writer friend who lives in Edmond, and I've been very worried about her and her family. They moved to OK from Picayune, MS, after Katrina. Living in KS, I go through the watches and warnings every spring (and summer and fall and...February?), but I think y'all to the south of us have even more.

Keep your head down and stay safe!!


Estella said...

I am so glad I live in an area where there are no tornadoes. I think one would scare me half to death.

Anonymous said...

It's very windy in Ohio today and we've had tornado warnings pop up this evening. Just the gusts of wind now makes me shiver. I think it's because I'm a homeowner and I think about the damage tornadoes and winds can cause. When I was in middle school I did a whole report on thunderstorms because I loved them. Now not so much but again I blame it on being a homeowner.
Glad you are safe!

EllenToo said...

Never had to live through tornadoes but have had to live through hurricanes. When I was younger I might have been willing to make a trip with tornado chasers but I think I'm a little too old now.