Wednesday, April 25, 2007

stormy weather

Morning has come and we survived another bout with Mother Nature. Traffic was barely creeping along the highway last night as 60 mph winds drove sheets of water across six lanes. I was glad to make it home in one piece. The honeysuckle is pretty perky today but many of the watersoaked roses are bent nearly double to the ground. Those that are still upright are mostly bereft of their petals. There are clumps of petals on the sidewalks, piled up by the driving wind that tore through yesterday. A neighbor who was anticipating the storm invited us over to view her backyard collection of roses, and I'm glad now that I took her up on the invitation. I shot this photo just as the storm was beginning to roll in. The pink showed up nicely against that grey house at the corner.

We also had our first tornado drill at work yesterday. I know the folks in charge of emergency procedures were itching for a chance to try out the system, and I guess the severe weather warnings yesterday were their golden opportunity. First we had a pre-recorded announcement in an annoying female voice: "May I have your attention please! May I have your attention please." Then a short blah blah blah and the voice urged us to "continue with normal activities." The announcement was repeated, then repeated a second time, a third, a fourth, a fifth time. By the third repetition we were nearly screaming at the speaker. "How can I be normal when this annoying loud voice will not shut up!!?" Some folks were keeping an eye on the local radar on their computers and we heard a possible funnel cloud had been spotted in Crowley, at the far end of the next county. This is enough to set off an official "Tornado Warning" from the National Weather Service for the county. That was the pretext needed for our emergency system to announce a "Warning" for our building.

From now on we are calling Tornado Drills "Sardine Drills" because in essence what happened was we had 30 people crowding into a room that wasn't meant for more than 4 or 5. We may become quite skilled at stuffing people into a phone booth, if there were any phone booths left to stuff ourselves into, or maybe we could stuff ourselves into a Volkswagen. Our "shelter" area seemed much less secure once it was packed with people. I don't see how we could do a "duck and cover" if a tornado were ripping off the roof. We'd stand there dumbstruck, goldfish caught in our bowl, bug-eyed, staring straight up, as that would be all the room we'd have. Mercifully, we were only confined for about ten or fifteen minutes.

We learned two important things. One was that the ventilation in our shelter wasn't made for a packed room and the other was that with the door shut we couldn't hear the "all clear" signal. Someone cheated and cracked the door to listen for it.

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