Thank our lucky stars
I check the weather reports regularly because I organize the Walking Group for our Club. We were supposed to walk this morning but it was canceled due to predicted rain & thunderstorms. Logan & I went about our business as usual, dropping him off at his preschool prep class while I ran a few errands around town.
While shopping for some clothes for Logan & a gift for a baby welcome we're going to tomorrow morning, it started to rain. It got pretty heavy, but it was nothing that was out of control. It was almost time to pick Logan up from school, so I headed on back. About a block away from his school while stopped at a stop light, the rain turned from a heavy beat down to hail. Again, nothing out of control, but definitely out of the usual.
A friend from The Club who's also in our playgroup was getting out of her car at the same time I was & we ran into the school together under her umbrella, laughing about how crazy the weather was getting & that here we were, two pregnant women running to get out of the rain. We met our kids with big hugs & gathered our belongings while trying to wrangle the boys who would rather run around in the gymnasium than hold our hands. Right before we were ready to leave, the teachers told us that we had to take cover in the bathrooms due to a severe tornado warning.
All of the parents looked at each other with confusion because the part of Colorado we live in is not prone to tornadoes, even though we do get warnings occasionally. We're not on the far eastern plains nor do we see them often like people who live in say, Kansas. But reluctantly a small group of us gathered in the bathroom while about half of the parents decided to just drive home. While huddled in the bathroom, the teachers plugged in a radio, brought out a tote full of toys for the kids & parents connected to the internet from their phones.
Soon, parents were reading the warnings out loud. "Severe tornado warning from 12-12:15pm. Life threatening conditions, tornado moving northeast 8 miles from our town". We all just kind of stood there listening to the reports, almost in denial while the kids played with the toys, clueless to the danger that was moving around outside. As soon as it was reported that the tornado was moving northeast away from us, we left to load the kids up in our cars.
It had stopped raining & everything seemed to be fine. While driving away, I called Bill at work to tell him about our bathroom hangout time. He read some more of the weather reports to me as I saw fast moving, low, dark, ominous clouds over the east side of town - right where we live. Bill told me to just drive home, don't stop & he would find a ride home from a co-worker. Still not thinking we were in imminent danger because the tornado was outside of our town in a neighboring county, I wasn't freaked out too much, even though I was driving in the direction of the heart of the storm.
As I was driving east towards the house, I had to pull over a few times because of ambulances speeding to get to the other side of the freeway where the tornado hit. That's when it hit me. We could very well have this, if not another tornado blow right over us. My stomach dropped & I drove as fast as I legally could to get us to safety.
We got home, I closed up the house & got lunch ready for Logan while I turned on the news. Reports of the tornado hitting a town just southeast of us - a 10 or 15 minute drive away - were on every channel. The damage was devastating. Houses were gone, trains, cars & semi's turned over, power lines down & reports of three deaths with hundreds injured. People lost their homes, pets & everything they owned. The Red Cross is in action helping displaced families & emergency services from a few counties are joining forces to handle the aftermath. This is the worst tornado reported in Colorado since the 1050's with winds of 136-200 mph. It tracked 28 miles from 11:25-12:00pm, stopping just miles, literally a few MILES away from our home. Since the tornado hit, there have been another seven tornado cells in the county just south of us.
We are SO LUCKY that we narrowly escaped the danger & devastation of this storm. I have a lump in my throat just thinking about what could have happened to us.