That was the most exhilarating day of my life. Terrifying, intense, extreme! I stood on the edge of the road, half leaning and half holding onto a weathered split-rail fence as I watched it off in the distance. Sure it was a good 2-5 miles away but I sure could feel it’s effects! Rain splattered against my face, the wind rippled the field like waves on an ocean. It was a beautiful sight.
If I looked to my left, I could see bright blue sky at the end of the clouds; rays filtering down in a golden crown. To my right, the sky had darkened like night. The angry beast twisted and swirled, snapping trees in half and uprooting crops. The contrast was so extreme!
My whole life I had grown up fascinated by weather – especially dangerous storms. I glued myself to The Weather Channel during hurricane season, daily checking for tropic updates. During the spring I followed the blogs of storm chasers, never expecting the ride along of my life!
I stood there, leaning on that split-rail fence watching the monster swirl when in the blink of an eye, the wind shifted. I was suddenly being pelted with hail and the ferocious beast began churning toward me. At first, I was awestruck and petrified and the concept that if I did not move, and move fast, this storm was going to be on top of me. The hail started pounding down harder, faster, larger chunks of ice, as I scrambled into my vehicle. Debris was already landing around the road, trying to block my path. The pavement was bordered by deep irrigation ditches. I had no choice but to muscle my way through the broken branches and roof shingles. Good thing I opted for the four-wheel-drive!
I quickly threw the car into reverse and backed down the road as quickly as I could without ended up in one of those ditches or high-barred on some broken power pole. I gauged my proximity to the storm as best as I could and when I thought I was a safe enough distance back I stopped moving. The winds rocked the body of the car enough to almost make me sick. I had given up on using the wiper blades to ward off the rain – the downpour was just too significant. Plus, my view was already obstructed by the cracks formed by the falling ice.
I had only been sitting there, holding my breath and listening to my heart beat pound in my ears for a couple of minutes before the tornado growled across the road in front of me. The swirling black mass tried to suck me into its powerful vortex but I was far enough back that I was just out of reach.
I watched as it tore into another field and slowly, almost delicately, wither away – perhaps out of sheer exhaustion. It was amazing! Literally breath-taking! A once in a lifetime experience that I hope is just that – once in a lifetime!