Monday, March 17, 2008

I wanna be a storm chaser.

Very exciting storm weekend. I think if I had a chance to do some things over, I would have gone into meteorology. I love lightning, thunder, hail and wind. The bigger the better, the scarier the better. It is impressive- the strength and selectivity of Mother Nature. So while most people were holed up praying and crying- I was outside videotaping and picking up hail and generally getting slapped around by a tornado. It was the closest I've been to extreme weather in a while and I loved ever minute- except for those cops and security people trying to tell me to "take cover." The worst thing was worrying about my car out in hail the size of this:

I was with my nine year old daughter and bunch of school kids participating in the annual Odyssey of The Mind Competition in Flowery Branch, GA. In case you didn't know, in the Flowery Branch area historical tornado activity is slightly above Georgia state average. It is 69% greater than the overall U.S. average.

For instance, on 4/3/1974, a category 4 (max. wind speeds 207-260 mph) tornado in Flowery Branch killed 6 people and injured 30, causing between $500,000 -$5,000,000 in damages.

On 3/27/1994, a category 4 tornado killed 3 people and injured 20 people and caused between $5,000,000 and $50,000,000 in damages.

ON 3/15/08, the tornado went past and over and around but didn't kill anyone in Flowerty Branch, Although hundreds of really smart kids and their fidgety parents were held hostage in the Flowery Branch High School while the threatening storms raged. Power hungry school officials and ratings eager TV weekend anchors created a larger storm inside 4 walls than outside. While children were forced into stinky windowless locker rooms and acoustically damped theaters for hours on end, some parents ran when security had their backs turned and holed in a local Mexican Restaurant where tequila and beer were in good supply. A dumped water glass in the lap of a particularly creative child made a trip to the local newly completed and thereby deemed incredibly SAFE Target store necessary. As an added bonus to the beleaguered crew of tornado chasers, the facility also housed a fully operational Starbucks. Here's one of the videos I shot. We saw the whole array from circular winds to black sky to slashing rain to hail to the whoo-whoo- sound and then the eerie calm- the silent shut off. It was freaking cool.

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