Well, here I am in Iowa. I guess it'* a common thing for a tornado to roll through, but it took 23 years to this day to see a very real tornado!
I'm not talking about the ones you see on TV, the news, or movies. Local news coverage doesn't even touch it. I'm still caught in the moment a little bit due to it being a first experience with the wrath of nature.
So here is the story.
It'* about 12:05PM here, and I'm on the phone with Ben talking about something(I forget). Suddenly the tornado siren goes off. It'* the first of the month, and since I'd never seen a tornado I figured it was the monthly test. It was pretty cloud and starting to rain a little, so I said,
"Real smart, guys. Blast the damn tornado sirens for your freaking test when it'* stormy out. That will keep everyone calm."
I proceed on, Ben hangs up to talk to Holly. I get back to work, standing in the doorway eating a curly fry, and as I look up examining the clouds(storms are neat in my mind), everyone else notices that the clouds are swirling a bit overhead.
We joke around a bit about a tornado hitting Muscatine, and find out that a tornado warning is actually in effect. It'* Iowa, we're used to that crap so we ignore it and continue watching the weather out the door.
Yes it was a lax day at work.
Out of nowhere, one of the co-workers points out the door, starts screaming "oh my god!" repeatedly, so we all look.
What appears over the treetops, no more than about a drag strips distance away? The top of a tornado visible just over the top of the trees. Now this is getting exciting. I've waited all of my life to see one, and now that I have it suddenly seems like a bad idea. Why? Because the way it was moving was directly towards us! I will say I have seen some very awesome things, but when you look at that tornado the scale seems epic and it looks very unforgiving.
Keep in mind, I work in a warehouse around truck drivers, so my general vocabulary contains many MANY four letter "F" words, and I'm not talking about "free".
So anyways, after about 10 seconds of looking at that thing heading towards us, I shout out, "**** you guys! I'm out of here!" I bolt for Max(1982 F-150 I drive while the car is down), and the paycheck man(who doesn't generally associate with us lackeys) shouted "Wait for me!"
So we fire up max, blast straight through the grass and out into the street. Head down to the stop light about 1000 ft away, run the red light and hang a left. We wanted to go straight towards the river, but the path was blocked. So anyways, we bust down Grandview Avenue just off of South Houser(you can look at a map to follow our course), and wouldn't you know it, the damn horn in Max is broke! So I'm stuck behind some damn little old lady driving a GP who is going WAAAAAY too slow for my liking. I flash the lights at her like a maniac trying to get her to get the lead out. No luck. Drop the hammer vere to the right onto the shoulder. Illegal, I know, but I'll take the risk of a ticket over the swirling death cloud trailing behind. We go busting down about three blocks until we got to a intersection that allowed us to cross the tracks. Dodged two cars that were on the other side which we couldn't see as the tracks were elevated and you have to drive over a hill, and hop onto Stewart Road. We bust down Stewart and find a parking lot that was out of the path of the tornado, start trying to make calls to make sure everyone is okay and telling others to get in a basement. Lucky us, everyone else had the same idea, and you couldn't get a call through to save your life, nor could you get a call to stay up.
The all clear sirens sound, so paycheck guy and I hop back in Max and cruise back to work. The whole way I'm thinking "I got a freaking kid on the way and I may not have a place to work when I get back, what the hell am I going to do if that'* the case?"
We roll across Grandview from Sampson street and get on Houser again. I will say that I was never so damn happy to see that place standing. We roll up to the building and the power is out. Some of the trailers in our lot had been moved by the wind. My curly fries had disappeared.....
A place called Curry'*, which does car repairs, and not far from work at all(less than a drag strip), was litterally leveled. Just up the street, power lines were down, one pole I saw had simply snapped in half, several more were laying on top of trailers across the street about 500 ft away from work. Trees had been uprooted, and had simply been stripped of the bark even. Another building up the street a ways(about a half mile) had the sheet metal ripped off of one side of it.
Sheet metal littered fields around the area with insulation, 55 gallon drums, rolls of hose, and who knows what else...
The local news is saying it was an F2 to F3 category tornado. It also rolled through other parts of town, but that'* probably in the news. It also went through a little town called Fruitland(distance to it is short but I don't know it and would be lying if I told you). Word is that most of that town, as well as another one further south called Grandview got leveled....
All in all, that experience was absolutely amazing. The news just said that the tornado was 1/4 mi. wide in places. I can say now that you may want to see a tornado in real life, but you(at least I) do NOT want to be standing in what you assume is the path. It'll get your heart pumping!
End story, it was awesome.