I was born and raised in central Michigan, where the summers can get nice and humid. Turns out to be pretty good tornado weather in fact. I have many childhood memories of big thunderstorms coming in, and watching TV when a tornado watch would be announced. I’m not sure we ever did have a proper warning, but I lived in mortal fear that there would one day be a funnel cloud that would drop down in the middle of New Lothrop, suck me up, and carry me off to somewhere far away, like Owosso. I have strong childhood memories of ominous dark skies while we drove in the car. My head knew that there was nothing to worry about, but the rest of me (my bowels, for example) wasn’t quite so sure.
Of course, once my family moved to the Middle East, precipitation in general became a special occasion. The only clouds in the sky were usually made of dust, a nice orange cast over the skyline that you can see in all of our pictures. But we sure didn’t get thunderstorms, I can tell you that much. So when we came back after four years, my first thunderstorm was almost exhilarating. I had forgotten the shattering lightning, the teeth-rattling thunder, and the rain that lashes against the patio window in waves.
And now here I am living in Kansas. Thanks to 75 years of an entire country watching The Wizard of Oz, tornadoes are pretty much what Kansas is known for. And we do get some doozies. I remember one when we were at the office, where work basically stopped while everyone lined up to watch the skies blacken, like the forced of Mordor were readying an invasion. And then it hailed. Mercy, did it hail. It piled up on people’s cars, and then the rain blasted down in sheets, as if the ocean itself was scouting out real estate on the Great Plains.
Just last night we woke up to some explosive thunder and hail pelting our window. I thought the Big One would come downstairs, but he stayed up. He definitely heard it though, and told us so this morning. Hearing the distant thunder this evening before bed, he went about reassuring his baby brother that the thunder was nothing to be afraid of.
Just now as I checked the weather report, I saw the little map of the viewing area with all of the counties under a watch highlighted. I felt like I took a trip back to 1991. Instead of the Kansas City news, it was Channel 12 out of Flint. I think it was actually Family Matters that was on. And in the distance, I heard thunder.