Riding the storm out

This past Monday marked the first official day of summer. With summer comes heat, and with heat often comes thunderstorms. Especially this past Monday, when tornadic thunderstorms moved through the area.

            Living in Wisconsin, it isn’t uncommon for us to see that little icon in the bottom corner of our T.V. screen. It’s the one with the little cloud and lightning bolt indicating a thunderstorm warning. Less common is the small little tornado icon.

            As a child in grade school, I remember being terrified of the idea of a tornado. It must have come from seeing the movie, “Twister” too many times. Every day I would ask my mom if there was supposed to be good or bad weather, and at the smallest hint of dark clouds in the distance, I would worry that a tornado would come.

            Tornado drills at school didn’t help. The noise was a shrill, piercing sound that made me fear even practicing for a tornado. During these drills, we would have to grab hard-cover books from our classroom, go into the hallway and sit with the books covering our heads until it was over. For a child terrified at the very idea of a tornado, these episodes were like a nightmare.

            I thought that I was completely over my fear of tornadoes. As I grew up and escaped the terrifying tornado drills of grade school, I began to enjoy the excitement of thunderstorms and actually think they were kind of cool. I even started saying that I wouldn’t mind seeing a tornado, if it were a safe distance away and didn’t pose a threat to anyone, of course.

            I began to regret what I said Monday night, which started with me outside watching the lightning and clouds in the distance, and ended with me in the basement wishing it would be over.

            Modern technology has allowed warnings for storms and tornadoes to become much more effective nonetheless panic inducing. What used to be small icons at the bottom of our T.V. screens are now maps with radar and computer storm-tracking technology. On Monday, city-wide tornado sirens sounded in Fort Atkinson, announcements were made on the police scanner, our weather radio alarm began sounding several times, and television channels were interrupted with constant weather coverage. I realized it was not the intense lightning and ominous clouds that scared me, it was all the weather alerts telling me to go into the basement and get under something sturdy.

            In the end, however, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Thus, tornadoes are just another page in that book of worries among airplane turbulence and other things out of my control. Whether I like it or not, they all carry that same solution: Do the best you can and ride it through.

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