Tara had been in a summer softball league for several years and when she was 10 and playing at one of the ball diamonds only a few miles from our house, the weather again turned ugly and one of the coaches was told that a tornado warning had been issued for our area. So as he quickly spread the word, the parents grabbed their kids, and everybody got out of there.
Tara and my mom and I had just left the ball diamond to go home and I was trying to keep an eagle eye on some nasty looking clouds just to the west of us. Suddenly Tara yelled, “There’s a funnel cloud!” I pulled over and yep, there was a tornado trying to form. It didn’t seem that big but it would come together, touch the ground briefly, bounce up into some low-hanging slightly twisty-looking black clouds, then it would tighten up into another funnel, touch the ground briefly and then bounce back up again. It didn’t seem to be moving that fast as it traveled north in the same direction that we were going to get home. It looked like it was maybe half a mile to the west of us.
I guesstimated that if it continued due north and at its current speed, it would pass just to the west of our house but that we might be able to get home before it got there. So I quickly debated if we should just stay there on the side of the road or if should I try to keep driving as fast as I could to get home before the tornado arrived. Tara had started crying that our pets were going to die and my mom was bemoaning that we had left all of the windows open because it was so hot when we had left for Tara’s softball game that I had almost decided to try and out-drive the tornado.
But then the rain began to pound down, lightning started hitting all around us and the skies turned that ugly greeny-black again. I told my mom and Tara that I was not going to try and out-run another tornado and so we stayed there in the car on the shoulder of the road. Maybe we should have got out of the car and hid in the deep ditches on either side of the road as meteorologists have long advised people to seek lower ground during tornadoes. But those ditches were often prone to flood and I didn’t relish the idea of us drowning or having a lightning bolt hit the ditch water while we were in there so we stayed in the car.
When the rain let up enough for me to see the road better, we slowly continued the 3 miles back to our house. There were a few trees torn up and lots of branches were down, both big and small, with twigs, leaves and flowers strewn all over the road, yards and fields. When I turned west onto Coldwater from Elms Road, a quarter-mile from our house, there was a torn up tree that was lying over most of the road. My mom and I had to pull on the top branches to move it just enough out of our way but it still scraped my car when I drove on the shoulder of the road to get past it.
The pets were cowering under the beds and couches but they were okay and we had a heckuva lot of rain to mop up that had come through the open windows. Our house had beige siding but the south and west sides looked completely green from all of the leaves and plants that were plastered to the house from its foundation to the roof.
There were branches of all sizes down all over the yard from our many trees and the garden looked like a giant had petulantly stomped it down. The weather reports said that yes, there had been a tornado, a small one that had done only a little bit of damage as it skipped along the ground for brief times. So we were very lucky that it wasn’t much worse.
But Tara was so excited that she had actually seen a tornado that I had an even harder time trying to keep her safe in the basement during bad weather after that!