It took me years to figure out the difference between tornado warnings and tornado watches. Not sure why really could be because I hear the word ‘TORNADO’ and I go into panic mood. This comes from an experience over 40 years ago!
I was 10 or 11 years old and my parents had gone out for the evening. They hired the teenaged neighbor girl to baby-sit myself and my two younger sisters. We lived in an old, old farmhouse in southern Michigan.
My Mom called and told the sitter to take us all to the basement. This was way before the modern warning systems where tornado watches and warnings are all over the television. Following Mom’s directions she packed us all up and we went to the basement. The dark, damp, musty Michigan basement was not a fun place to spend a minute much less several hours.
It seemed like we were there, huddled under the basement stairs for ever. Later I learned it was less than a couple hours. When the phone rang again upstairs it took some effort for the sitter to convince me to stay in the basement with my sisters while she went to answer the phone.
“It’s all clear. We can go back upstairs!” I know I nearly ran up those stairs so thrilled to escape the dungeon of the basement. The sitter put my sisters to bed but let me stay up until my parents got home. When we heard the car pull in the drive-way I ran upstairs to my bed so neither the sitter or I would get in trouble for my staying up so long after my bedtime.
The next morning I woke to find the huge barn about 50 yards from our house destroyed. It looked like someone picked up a Lincoln log toy house and dropped it 10-20 feet from the Michigan stone foundation. When I saw that and realized what the tornado ‘could’ have done to our house I didn’t think the basement was such a bad option after all.
I think that was when I realize my Mom was not out to just make my life miserable and sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do but those things are for the better!
Tornado Watch - conditions one could develop watch for one.
Tornado Warning - one has been spotted take cover.