June 10, 2014

Unintentional Storm Chasing

We had quite a weekend. It was so busy that I needed yesterday to rest up!

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Saturday we made the 2 hour trip to my grandpa's, who lives at the lake, to celebrate his 83rd birthday. All of his children, grand-children and great-grandchildren were there. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures (except the one I took in the car on the way down) because I was too busy catching up with everyone.

We had a blast…especially TnT. The girls got to meet some cousins they had never met before. There was lots of eating, golf cart riding, lake viewing, horseshoe playing, running through the sprinkler, talking and relaxing. It's always surprises me how relaxed I feel when we do down there. It's unlike any vacation….except for maybe a kid-less beach vacation with fruity drinks.

Around dinner time, we gathered our clan and decided to eat dinner on our way out of town. We rode with my parents. On our way to the restaurant, I noticed some storm clouds so I opened my weather app to see what was going on. There was a severe storm headed our way but I figured we would be ok once we finished dinner and headed north toward home. Boy was I wrong.

We finished dinner, loaded everyone up in my parents suburban and headed home. At this point I'm still thinking we're ok and would be able to stay ahead of the storm. I forgot to mention that my sister and her family were in their car ahead of us. Well, that storm that appeared to be moving due east started moving north east an somehow we were heading right toward it.

I asked the driver (AKA my dad) and the passenger (AKA JMac) if maybe we should stop somewhere until it passes but they didn't seem worried so we kept going. My mom told me to breathe and that it would be ok (I wasn't convinced). Then she announced that she needed a pit stop. My sister and her family kept going.

It started to rain while we were waiting on my mom but it wasn't bad. We got back on the highway and headed home. It wasn't long before it was raining so hard that we couldn't see anything outside the car. We texted my sister to see how it was up ahead. No response.

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I finally decided to call her and when when she answered I knew it was bad. Just seconds after answering the phone, I could hear large objects hitting their car which I assumed to be hail. Then everyone started screaming. I had no idea what was going on. Meanwhile, my dad kept driving and kept begging him to pull over as the winds and rain continued to get worse. My dad finally decided to pull off the highway and under an overpass when it began to hail where we were. I was still on the phone with my sister who by now was praying so hard and so loud that I started to get really scared.

Shortly after everything calmed down, I got a "Shear Storm Warning" on my phone a little too late on that.

Despite being under and overpass, my sister and BIL were being hit with large flying debris from the 75mph+ straight line winds. Trees and rocks and pieces of sheet metal were flying at them and did quite a bit of damage to their car. The car next to them had their windows busted out and the people inside were covered in mud and debris but thankfully they were ok…just in a little bit of shock.

Somehow we had managed to come within a mile of them after our pit stop before the bad part of the storm hit yet we managed to escape the flying debris and I think the strongest winds.

TnT slept through the entire thing.

The lesson here? NEVER EVER DRIVE INTO A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM! (cough, cough dad & JMac).


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