Our weather forecast was for scattered thunderstorms, but that itself was not cause for worry. It’s pretty much the forecast everyday during the summer, but it certainly doesn’t rain everyday. The day looked pretty decent in the morning. We hung up our flag, the kids rode their bikes, all was well. I made pasta salad for the party we’d being going to later. After lunch I put Bip down for a nap, Philip took Boo and Pumpkin Girl to the Freedom Fest on base. I snuck away from Bip and came downstairs. I happened to glance at our computer…ok, I was checking my email…and I saw that our Weather Channel alert button was blinking. Not good.
Turns out we were under a tornado watch until 10 pm! I checked the radar and it was clear, but still. I am terrified by tornadoes. I don’t like knowing that a day holds the potential for deadly destruction. I worry all day. Then the sky darkens with the approaching storm and my stomach gets in knots. The severe weather alert signals start sounding and I’m glued to the tv, watching the Super Cell of Death approaching. I watch the sky for signs it’s about to puke. I try to figure out where in my hastily built, WWII era, basement-less house I’m supposed to hide. Children? I have children? Sorry, it’s every coward for themselves.
I tend to panic during tornado watches. Tornado warnings? Let’s not go there.
By the time I met up with Philip and the children at our friends’ house, the sky had darkened and the radar was showing a couple of big red storm cells heading our way.
The other adults at the party were a little less concerned than I was, but were still monitoring the weather radio. By now a tornado warning had been issued for a county north of us and an even larger, angrier storm was coming at us.
By 5pm we decided to start grilling
while we still had a grill before the storm arrived so that the kids (15 of them) could eat outside. By 5:45 a tornado warning had been issued for the country directly to the west of us, for a storm heading…East! And now the National Mall was being evacuated for the storms.
Evacuated – as in run for your lives, Big Killer Storm on the Way! OK, it was a little more orderly than that. Park police in golf carts telling people who’d staked their prime firework viewing spot hours ago to pack it up and move it out. People were put into 21 surrounding buildings to wait out the storm. They were anticipating letting people back on to the Mall by 7:30, if we weren’t all swept away to Oz, and have the fireworks display as scheduled.
As for me, I was quite anxious. Being around other, calmer adults helped. Listening to them tell their tornado horror stories didn’t help at all. Two different people separately suggested that perhaps I’d feel better with an amaretto slush.
Since everyone at the party was Catholic, we prayed a decade of the Rosary.
And then the approaching storm just sort of fell apart. It passed just north of us, hitting the abandoned Mall, but it was much smaller and we got only a few drops of rain. I’m telling you, prayers worked.
The rest of the evening passed without drama. We had a wonderful view of the fireworks from a grassy spot along the river, just 2 blocks from our house. We listened to the simulcast music on the radio and ooh and ahhed appropriately. The storm brought cooler temperatures and bit of a breeze. We returned to the party for round 3 of desserts and finally came home and put the kids to bed much too late.
Another Fourth of July not to be forgotten. I’m hoping next year will be far less stressful.