Thunder, lightning and sirens, Oh My!

Published 9:25 am Thursday, April 5, 2018

Toto, I don’t think we’re in California anymore.

Last night’s storm shenanigans had family back home with dropped jaws as I posted a video on social media of not only the lightning and thunder but a tornado siren that could be heard in the distance. Although most are used to it around here, tornados are a natural phenomenon Californian’s only see when they sit down to watch classics like “The Wizard of Oz.”

Growing up, I remember repeatedly watching Dorothy get sucked up into the “twister” and thinking how scary that must be to actually live somewhere where you had to not only worry, but deal with the aftermath if a big giant decided to form, touch down and then destroy everything in its path.

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Let me put it in perspective. The way West Coaster’s feel about tornados is much like the way I am finding out East Coaster’s feel about earthquakes.

I’ll never forget shortly after moving to Kentucky having a conversation with a work colleague who has now turned into a lifelong friend. Talking about the state I had just moved from her eyes got all big as she told me she could never dream of moving to a place like California that had to deal with so much scary crazy weather after watching a program on TV the night before.

Stumped, and very much dumbfounded, I stared at her and asked what she was talking about.

What natural disasters did the sunshine state deal with on a regular basis that I missed living there for 34 years?

“Are you kidding me,” she asked. “I could never live somewhere that had all those earthquakes. That is so scary.”

Trying not to laugh, as I am sure people do here when I open my mouth sometimes, I tried my best to explain how it really isn’t as scary or as big of a deal as she was thinking.

Yes, the West Coast deals with earthquakes, and I learned how to dive under a desk regularly in elementary school. However, not due to the actual event itself. Drills took place a few times a year, but unless we visited family in Southern California we never experienced one shaking where I grew up in Northern California.

Los Angeles and San Francisco take the brunt of all the earthquake hype. I’m not saying it is not something to be concerned about, ask most West Coaster’s and they will tell you that California is well overdue for a big one. The pressure has been building for years without big results. A ticking time bomb most would say. And although my home state has failed to see much action since the 1980s, that doesn’t mean I have not experienced my fair share of earthquakes.

One, in particular, shook us out of bed and half drained the water out of my aunt’s outdoor pool one fall in Huntington Beach. I remember waking to the sound of the closet doors rattling and yelling at my brother to knock it off because I was trying to sleep. When it didn’t stop, I became more irate until the shaking increased and I sat up realizing what exactly was going on. Like most do in these events, everyone turned on their light and came out in the hallway as the shaking quieted down a few moments later. Wide-eyed we all looked at each other wondering if it was all over, and then ran to the backyard where we witnessed the half empty pool.

When we first moved to this state over a year ago we watched in anticipation regularly and if there was any threat index immediately took cover like we were about to get sucked up like Dorothy and her little dog. Peaking out blinds, confident we were about to see it coming right towards us, we marveled at the lightning and high winds and worried it was a possibility we were about to be destroyed. A year later, I stood outside last night filming the show and making sure those back home got a taste of the action.

I’ve learned that although serious, it is not as crazy living in the action as I once feared as a kid. Granted when the sirens started sounding I made sure to shut off the camera and take cover in the basement, but unlike an earthquake that hits without any warning in the middle of the night, tornados can be spotted and people can be alerted in most circumstances.

And when all else fails, I’m a firm believer that faith in God for our protection goes a long way!

Brittany Fuller is the community editor of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. She can be reached at