Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

life in tornado land

You know how you can always tell how close someone has lived to a place by their reaction when you mention it?

Well if you mention Kansas and a person says, "that place has some fucked up politics"... you're talking to someone who's done some time here.

if they mention something about scenic rolling hills and perfect sunsets, they're one of those bizarre prairie hippies who haven't left.

everyone else raises eyebrows and says, "you survived the TORNADOES!" because apparently outside of Kansas that's our gig... we're known as the place where people are regularly whisked away by tornadoes like dorothy in the wizard of oz.

So just to clear the air! here's what the tornado situation really is here. I've lived in Kansas almost my whole life and have survived to tell about the struggle being real.

Once a month, on clear days, we hear the sirens being tested. you can hear them from inside a building.

2-3 times a year they go off for real and you're supposed to go to your basement. You have a TV, radio or tablet with you and check radar and look for funny looking hooks or different colors running together... it was funny, when we were in New York we heard lots of these tornado comments, and one night when we were there we did experience a storm and the entire radar was the same even green color. Our radar images in Kansas are so much more exciting. All kinds of reds yellows greens running into each other along lines and fronts, it's great.

Sometimes the weather forecasters will tell you a day in advance that there are storms coming that could produce tornados... if they do that, then the storm will not produce tornados. If they tell you there will be "light rain", then you're in for it. It'll rain, then the storm will escalate a bit, and at some point you'll look outside and say "well the sky is an odd shade of evil green today" and then the sirens go off.

We live northeast of the city. Heat over a city tends to dissipate tornados, which start up in the west and move our way, so it's never gotten to us.

ONCE in the four years since I bought this house, we moved from the outside of the basement to the inside center storage room that's isolated from all the windows. Just once though.

People who do not have basements go to the interior rooms of their houses, or official established tornado shelters, it's very common for apartment complexes and trailer parks to have a shelter.

I have seen rotational activity in a cloud. I have never seen a tornado.

If a tornado touches down, it can take out some houses or a neighborhood. But unlike hurricanes, they don't take out a whole city. Their destruction will be spotty, they'll take out every other house, it just depends on who's displeased Jesus that time around I guess. So you'd be able to go to a neighbors or something. Honestly, hurricanes sound much much scarier. Sure you get warned a week ahead of time, but where would you go?

All these fly-by-night migrant roof repair outfits descend on the city whenever there's a tornado to fix people's houses, and all these stories come out about how you can't trust them, but people look for a good deal and try anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I know there have been enormous tornados like the one in 2007 that was wider than Greensburg, destroyed the town and killed 11 people. And then there's Moore, Oklahoma that has had the awful luck of an F4 or above every 4-5 years. But those stories are rare, and away from the most populated urban areas a bit.

Tornadoes can be dangerous. But when I hear about other areas that have hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, mudslides, or typhoons, I'd definitely rather deal with the occasional tornado. The sirens don't even phase you too much after you live here for a few years, you get used to the interesting weather.
Tags: kansas

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