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Tornado Watches on the Anniversary of the 2011 Joplin Tornado Has Us Hunkering Down

Today’s post is a little early. Eight years ago today, Joplin, Missouri was hit by an EF-5 tornado. I wasn’t going to write about this event because so many others have and will. However, as the day has progressed and the severe storm forecasts for this evening have continually escalated, I feel I’d be remiss not to pen at least a few lines.

The May 22, 2011 Joplin tornado changed everything for us. I’ve never seen such devastation before and fervently pray I never will again. The natural disaster taught us a great deal as a community. One of the things we learned is to be aware of our weather conditions. I admit I turn on the local weather as soon as I get home from work every night. I check the weather ap on my phone first thing in the morning, so I can properly prepare for the day.

I work in Joplin. I live not far from there. We are in tornado alley. Everyone in the area seems acutely aware of the coming storms. I was visiting with a client yesterday when she reminded me she’s a 2011 tornado survivor. She went into detailed specifics about her storm plan. Some people blow weather warning off, but that’s not typical around here anymore. This lady knows what she’s doing with her animals, where she’s taking shelter, and has a bug-out bag that she’ll take to the tornado shelter. She knows which shelters her family and friends will be using and vice versa. She will never be caught unaware again.

Most of us have a tornado story whether we were in it or merely impacted by it. Perhaps someday I will share mine with you. I was impacted, but not caught in the storm. Today is not the day for sharing my particular story.

We have been inundated with rain and severe storms this spring. Mother Nature is deceptive. She shows us clear skies and sunshine on our way to work of a morning. By lunch time, we see clouds and perhaps a shower. By the time we leave from work, the flood gates have opened and are trying to drown us. Or, it storms all day and all night.

Tonight’s forecast includes the formation of supercells capable of producing tornados, hail three inches in diameter, heavy rain and strong winds. It’s warm and muggy outside right now, which apparently makes conditions favorable for tornado formation. There are storm chasers all over our area, ready to capture images and data for us. Our local meteorologist is cautioning people not to panic, but to stay vigilant. He has been doing Facebook Live updates throughout the afternoon. He is giving us the facts without any sugar coating, but he is also trying to curb the panic that many who make their homes here feel during such storms.

Monday evening, I drove home during one of those storms. The temperature had dropped by several degrees from the eighties to the fifties. I could see the clouds rotating. They weren’t forming a tight enough spiral at the point to drop a tornado, but it wouldn’t have taken much. The roads were flooded in places I’ve seen running water before. It wasn’t just rivers and creeks. Storm drains, ditches, and low-lying lawns were spilling water into the roadway at an alarming rate. That storm system dropped tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas, very close to where I grew up.

On this sad anniversary, I’m saying a prayer for everyone’s safety and battening down the hatches at the house. Stay safe, everyone!

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