Storms anywhere can be terrifying and I used to be one of the millions who suffer from Astrophobia (Fear of thunder and lightning / anything storm related, Yeah I looked up the name lol.) For years I would dread the impending threat on the TV or radio but now after a year in an RV and experiencing some truly nasty weather instances I can finally say I am reformed.
Storms in an RV for me are different in two main ways. The first is the noise. In our camper it is covered with metal and not a whole hell of a lot of insulation. So when big heavy rain drops or hail hit the roof it sounds like a shot-gun going off two feet outside your door. It gets so loud sometimes that everyone is unable to sleep (even though we all sleep with fans) and we worry about the roof caving in. Scary right? However we have thankfully never had any notable damage. A few close calls which I will get to later.
The other difference is the intensity and frequency of the storms to worry about. In a house, only predicted “bad storms” you had to think about but in an RV, ANY storm that comes through may have to be considered. As a result I have gotten into the habit of packing a back pack full of supplies (Yes, I’m that kind of mom) to have handy if things go side ways in a hurry. For example, wind. Wind in central Missouri averages about 10-20 mph gusts daily but in a storm those numbers jump up to 50, 60 and sometimes higher. That kind of strength and speed can turn an RV over on its side. There are not as many trees to block the gusts, just long flat stretches of land for it to blow freely and the space below the camper provides the perfect amount of space to produce suction.
In the park we are set up in, there are two options for safety if a particularly harsh storm rolls in. It offers a bath house (Which we only go to if there is no time. Its only about 100 or so yards away and anywhere is better than an RV in a tornado) and a storm shelter which circumstance has required us to go a couple of times. One of those instances was about 6 weeks ago. It was mid March and as many people know here in the south that means one thing, Tornado season. Technically tornadoes can occur anytime as long as the conditions are right but in tornado alley January through July and then again in August – September is the time most of us experience the threat. More than half the year has the potential for a tornado, who would want to live here? Actually millions of people, weather is warmer here year round and everyone likes warm weather, Pros are better than the cons.
Before I get back to my story I must tell you my husband LOVES to track storms and watch them on radar, he even took an online course at Skywarn.org to become a weather spotter. We both have multiple weather/radar apps on our phones and tablets so at least we feel prepared before it gets to us. Anyway on this particular day the meteorologists in our area warned that conditions were favorable for some severe weather and may produce several rapid forming tornadoes that evening. As I had become accustomed to doing the previous year, I gathered supplies (Water bottles, aspirin, band aids, snacks for the boys, sweets incase someone began going into shock, a pocket knife, a blanket, charged our phones, tablets and weather radio and also positioned our rain boots so we could jump into them with no time spared.) A big reason I over came my fear of storms like most other things is my boys. My husband and I are very firm believers in facing your fears and we didn’t want the boys to be afraid of storms, just aware. As christians we teach our boys that God has a reason/plan for everything and rain/storms are a product of that. Because without such things there would be no water for crops, trees or a way to replenish the rivers or lakes. I digress.
My Boys, love the storm shelter so whenever we say “We have to go to the storm shelter” they get excited and hurry. I believe they think of it as an adventure. We drove over to the storm shelter which is more convenience than necessity (it is raining and slightly hailing here) before the worst of the weather arrived. We were actually met by a very nice older gentleman who also resides in the park and is an enthusiast of storms like my husband. Well, I set the boys up at the back of the shelter, cleaned off chairs to stay busy and made sure the babies were comfortable all the while watching the radar on my tablet and ease dropping on my husbands conversation. (Don’t judge me, we are all nosy sometimes.)
We were all settled in and lighthearted about the situation, cracking jokes and what not when more and more people started showing up. My husband asked me who all was in the park that weekend (I’m literally here all day everyday, I notice things. HAHA) So like the hero I believe he is, he ran out into the heavy ran and increasingly severe storm to knock on people’s doors to let them know Weather was coming in. He came back 10 minutes later helping some of the elderly couples find a seat and I made sure no one was hurt. It became very crowded with People, dogs, mixing body odors (it’s a risk every time a bunch of people in a hurry run when gathering.) The noise also increased, not just the volume of nervous talking but the storm outside ramped up. Thunder became more frequent, lightening almost continuous and my husband, standing next to the storm door, texted me and told me at one point he felt a suction effect from the outside. As I tuned the voices out and listened more intently I realized that I could hear a tornado. Not on top of us but close. It sounded like a constant roar above the thunder. Anxiety revving at an all time high I hugged my baby boys closer to my lap and looked at my tablet. Sure enough there was a Tornadic Signature (radar registering a tornado is possibly down) one town over across the lake and we could hear it because the noise was echoing off the water, feeding it and pulling at the atmosphere around it.
Now I don’t know if this happens to everyone but I’ve read stories just as I’m sure you have, when something serious occurs if feels like time slows down. And that is the same thing that happened to me. I texted my husband (still by the freaking door, I was with the boys at the back of the shelter) and let him know what I was seeing, which he confirmed. Sending up a quick prayer for safety, I watched that damn red flashing triangle on my radar for what felt like days until it just went away. Disappeared. It’s a little surreal, even though we were perfectly safe, I felt as though the radar should reflect the sort of emergency I was feeling. If you can’t tell, this was the first time I’ve been this close to a tornado with the potential to cause harm, never even heard one except for videos on the internet. I honestly can’t imagine the horror, despair or helplessness that some people feel when they go through something like that and I’m so sorry.
When the storm passed, we all left as quickly as we showed up back to our individual realms of living like nothing had happened. At that moment, I no longer feared storms. I can’t control the outcome any better than you can. But I can control how I handle the situation which, I do by being prepared. So I think I’m ready for the next one.