My plan yesterday was to head directly to the Olympic Swim and Racquet Club immediately after the work day ended at 4 to see Susie’s swim meet. As I was standing at the bus stop near N. High and W. Spring St., I saw the sky was dark gray, and only getting grayer. I began to wonder if the meet was going to happen. I was trying to figure out what direction those clouds were headed, and I was sure it was only a question of when–not if–the rain was going to happen. I rode the 4 bus that went up Indianola with my eye looking up at the sky the whole time.
I was the first one to the pool. Their rule about meets, practices, and diving competitions is that rain is not sufficient reason to pull the plug. There had to be lightning for that to happen. I had been at the pool about 10 minutes when I heard–with proper credit to Pink Floyd–the delicate sound of thunder. It had to be pretty far off, because I hadn’t seen any lightning.
That soon changed. The lifeguards were standing on their perches and yelling through bullhorns saying, “Clear the pool at once!” There was no argument there, because the storm began in earnest at that point. The thunder was the type that makes your whole body vibrate like a tuning fork, and the lightning was so close that I could actually hear a “Pfft!” sound when the lightning bolt flashed, and the thunder came right on top of that.
The inevitable decision to cancel the rest of the meet came about 10 minutes later. (There had been a diving competition in progress, but the lane swimming had yet to start.) Steph, Pat, Tanya, and all our little darlings came to pick me up just before the pool officials announced the “abort mission” for the meet. We had a long, filling dinner at BW3 in Graceland (the shopping center just south of Worthington, not Elvis’ mansion), although I was less than stellar with the electronic trivia game.
After lights out, Steph and I were sitting up in bed with the TV on. On Channel 4, there was no Jay Leno. Instead, the screen was dominated with a weather radar graphic, and all of Central Ohio, along with voice-overs from their meteorologists, saying that there were funnel clouds in various stages of formation. Most of them were in the western part of Franklin County and headed eastward–which meant that once they crossed the I-270 Outerbelt, we would be in the path of it.
And then the tornado sirens began whooping. At first I thought it was on TV, but sure enough, it was outside, and they were getting louder and louder. I muted the TV to make sure that I was indeed hearing the tornado sirens.
We wasted no time after that. I pulled on a pair of trousers, Steph put on a nightgown, and we had a very hard time getting Susie awake. (It had been a big day for her. When she saw her bed at the end of the day, it was like someone had taken the switch that powered her body and threw it to “off.” Groggily, we got her on her feet and we headed down to the basement.
I have to confess that your humble blogger, Mr. Radiophile, does not own a transistor or battery-powered radio, not even a weather radio. However, we did take Steph’s laptop down with us. We punched up the National Weather Service’s site, http://www.nws.noaa.gov/, but it was of limited help. The images were not posted in real time. The one we saw was about 10 minutes old, and the nearest NWS station is down I-71 in Wilmington, on the road to Cincinnati. Outside, we could hear the wind bending tree limbs, debris flying up against the house, and the sirens blaring louder and louder. (The one basement window is boarded shut, so we couldn’t glance out to see what was happening.)
During our mad flight down to the basement, I racked my brain to remember what the proper procedure about windows was during a tornado–open or shut them all? Steph told me the only thing to do is to leave them alone.
Then there came the quiet. I exhaled an almost comic book “Whew!”, but Steph said that the center of the storm is always the calmest, so we weren’t free and clear yet. The only sound we heard were the tornado sirens, and a thunderclap now and then. At last, just after 12:30, we emerged from our basement and headed back upstairs, because that was when the tornado warning was to expire.
We got Susie to bed and I was trying to decompress from being keyed up about the storm for so long. Per the weather radar on TV, the storm had missed us and was heading east toward Licking County, but the sirens were not shutting off. If anything, they were gaining in intensity, and there was plenty of thunder and lightning. (I remember once when I was a teenager, I was in one of those portable tool sheds getting something and there was a very loud blast of thunder. The whole shed rang like a gong, and my ears had a high whistling sound in them for several minutes. I remember that thunderclap–It sounded like a scream inside a helmet.)
I was worried that if another storm was just around the corner, would anyone believe it? It was kind of like the little boy crying wolf. On the news this morning, I heard that it was all the excess electricity in the air, and that was causing the sirens to go off randomly and not shut off when they were supposed to be silent.
When I went to catch the bus for work this morning, there was no street flooding, like there was in the storm last week (I posted pictures of it in one of the previous entries), although I downloaded a clip from WBNS’ Website, http://www.10tv.com, which showed some towns where the baseball fields had flooded, and the water level was up to nearly the top of the scoreboard.
During my high school and bachelor years, I would still be up and functional at that hour of the night. I was addicted to late movies more than to talk shows, so often times I would watch Nite Owl Theatre on Channel 10, and would stay in front of the set until I was tired, even if it was after the station had played the national anthem and signed off the air.
And now I’m doing well to get through the 11 o’clock news and Leno’s monologue.