Growing up in the Panhandle of Texas and various parts of Colorado and Texas and visiting Kansas every summer, you'd think I'd be used to Tornados and Tornado warnings, right? Hey, when we lived in Pampa at one house we had a siren in our backyard and man was that thing loud! But we heard it... every Saturday at 11:30 (right before Fat Albert, LOL) the siren went off and we'd suffer through the test, hoping that would be the only time we would ever hear the sucker. And at the other house we had a storm shelter. The place smelled of mold and dirt, but at least we had one, most houses didn't at least that I remember. Mom, Clark and I were very lucky not to see one tornado or funnel cloud while we were there, though now I see Pampa featured on the Weather Channel all the time with various tornadic activity.
Then every summer I'd spend in Kansas we'd have at least one warning, if not two and I'd spend the time in my grandparent's basement (remember Grandma). I remember one summer, my Grandparents were at their friend's house in the country and my Aunt and I were at their home. We spent a good amount of the afternoon in the basement because of warnings, watches and the like. At least everyone made it safe through that one. And then the one summer we all spent out in Arizona. Grandma, Grandpa and I were traveling back to Mesa after spending time traveling Southern Arizona when we came across a nice, interesting looking tornado. My Grandparents didn't want to own up to the fact that this was in fact a tornado to me. They were afraid I'd freak out. In fact, I truly wasn't sure myself, having never seen one in person. If I knew, I would of been freaking out. I remember driving through a town where the rain started lightly, then harsh, then hail, then nothing... the calm in the eye of the storm and there it was. It was touching the ground, but was quite see through and then the opposite affect on the way out. I remember someone saying when we got back to the trailer park in Mesa that the tornado destroyed one bar and then disappeared. Of course, this could all be my imagination, but it's a very strong memory so I count it as real.
Since I've moved out here to Colorado there have been very few tornados. Two happened around two or three years ago about 2 miles south of my house and the lake nearby, but I never saw them and we didn't have sirens. We now have sirens (that the city reluctantly put up after those tornados) that never go off, even in a warning. They went off yesterday. It sent silent shivers up my spine, but I was calm. Got the kids in the basement and made sure we had what we needed. Before the sirens went off though, I was outside with the camera. I got a few pictures of the nasty looking clouds and one that I learned later was the funnel cloud disappearing back into the clouds.