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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Monday, April 11, 2011


Gogo, the critters and I have all survived our first Texas twister. Yep, you heard me.... a freaking TORNADO! All those things I've been saying about how terrified I am of tornados? The fear definitely got healthier after last night!!

It's been hot all week, miserably hot. (Yes, I know it's going to get a LOT hotter, but it HAS been almost 100 every single day out here in the country...!) The forecast for yesterday evening had a slight chance of thunderstorms included, and I didn't think too much of it until around 6pm. Suddenly, out of nowhere, giant angry clouds appeared on the horizon just northwest of my house. One minute it was clear, and the next time I looked out the window.... BAM! That can't be good.

The clouds continued to build up in the west, and looked like they were going to land a direct hit on our place. Radar showed that the movement of the storms was north, but that they were crawling VERY slowly east towards where we were. I floored it over to the main farm, and found this waiting for me:

My boss made the comment that they looked like tornado producers. I didn't stick around long enough to find out. The lightning had begun, and I rushed to secure everything, lock the horses in the barn, and hightail it back to my house, where Gogo was still out in turnout next to her neighbor Bobo. I checked the radar, saw we were now under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning (had only been a watch before), and called my landlord's wife to let her know that we needed to bring the horses in, NOW.

Both horses were in the very back of their fields when we went to go get them. Neither showed any interest in coming to us, even though we were calling and calling their names. It was impossible for them to hear us over the roar of the increasing winds, and every time I turned back around to look at the incoming storm, I was blinded by ground-seeking bolts of lightning. At this point, Bobo had decided that he had had enough of this crap, and came galloping towards my landlord's wife. Gogo, not to be deterred, blasted off like a bottle rocket, galloping right past me (of course I was almost at the very end of the pasture by then.... thanks Gogo) so she could follow her boyfriend's every move. When she got near the gate, she stopped dead, eyeballs popping out of her head at the sight of the lightning. We got both horses safely in their stalls, gave them water and hay, crossed our fingers, and all took off to our respective houses.

This is what was outside my door at this point:

And then, night closed in around us. The wind completely stopped. There was nothing but silence, and darkness... the calm before the storm. It didn't last very long.

The storm crawled slowly closer and closer. It continued to move mostly north, but it didn't stop inching sideways towards us. All I could see at this point was lightning, neverending lightning. It flashed repeatedly every second, darting through the clouds, streaking towards the ground. The thunder became louder, the winds stronger. Without warning, the sky opened, and rain lashed the windows, rattling the panes and sending my animals into a tailspin. Quarter-sized hail came pelting down out of the sky, and I had a moment where I honestly feared for my windows. The lightning was so intense that I could do nothing at this point except stare wide-eyed out my window, breathing shallowly and wondering if this was the time to gather my pets and hunker down in my innermost bathroom - the only shelter I have against a big storm. And then, something strange was happening to the clouds. They were doing things that didn't make sense. Illuminated by the neverending lightning all around me, I saw the very finger of God coming down out of the sky, and my heart stopped. It can't be.

The Weatherbug on my computer chirped at me in a sweet way as I stood frozen in the windowframe. Tornado Warning! You might wanna take cover! I didn't even know if my legs would work to get my terrified self to safety. I was paralyzed with fear.

I was lucky enough that what I witnessed had already passed me by, and was some miles away from me at this point. I was very stupid NOT to go hide in the bathroom, but radar showed the cell to be passing us completely with a break behind it, so I didn't completely panic even though I maybe should have. The cell went right over the main farm, and my boss heard it and tried in a frenzy to get all of her dogs into her back room. By the time she had started to collect them, the roar of the freight train had already stopped. This morning, there are a few huge trees on the ground, and every jump we own is scattered all over the place, but those are the only signs that something was amiss last night. We were lucky. Really, really lucky.

As far as I know, the tornado that I saw never actually made contact with the ground. There was not much in the way of damage away from the farm, so I think it was just enough to give us a pretty good scare and nothing more.

Sure worked though. I went to bed at around midnight, and another mega cell came overtop of us not too long thereafter. The power went out, the lightning flashed, the thunder boomed, and I curled under my bedcovers and hid. Future Hubs was on high alert for me while he was at work, watching the radar and sending me alert updates, so he let me know what was going on with the storm. I had my bathroom all bedded up at this point, filled with blankets, pillows, water, and bowls for the pets, and I was ready for the moment when I needed to run. I probably should have just gone for it, seeing as tornados can and do randomly pop up in big storm cells like that. Next time I won't be so stupid.

Good lord. Welcome to Texas springtime. I knew I had a reason to be terrified!


Alighieri said...

Ah, Texas thunderstorms. You get used to them, and when you move away, you realize you miss the intensity of the big claps of thunder and the rain that comes down in sheets and the lightning that forks consistently across the sky.

Of course, you never miss the hail, or the tornadoes.

Glad you and all the gang survived, and be thankful your power didn't go out. I know a few people out there who lost it for the entire night.

jenj said...

I second the Texas thunderstorm comment, Alighieri. They can be terrifying, yet I love them. Besides, we're usually so dry that I'll happily welcome ANY form of precipitation, even if it comes in scary packages.

Glad y'all are OK up there!

Abby said...

I don't know about everyone else, but I am DYING to know about Future Hubs.

Yep, that storm passed over my house at around 3 AM, but I guess all the twisters occurred further west. Our power did flicker a few times though. Of course today was cloudless and perfect.

Gotta love that Texas weather!

Emily said...

Glad your safe!! I live on the "front range" in colorado, that area right where the great plains meet the rocky mountains, and it is VERY prone to tornados. I live almost in the foothills so most storms go over me and then hit the plains and produce tornados. But two years ago for some reason we were getting tornados in the foothills, none ever touched down, but it was very VERY freaky, especially when we are not a town known for them (unlike the neighboring town just 20 miles away that gets them all summer long). Stay safe!! I think I get more concerns about my animal's safety than mine, bad I know, but I can't help it.

Dressager said...

I do love the precipitation big scary thunderstorms bring. I don't like it when it comes with sickly green skies or hail. Or when mother nature decides to dump a hurricane and flash floods in my town, just a few houses down, after several months of little to no rain.

Texas weather :) If there was any predictability I wouldn't know what to do!

But seriously, I would be Chicken Little if there was an actual tornado right on top of me. Super lucky!!!!

DressageIsToDance said...

God I'm glad I don't live in a tornado-prone place...we don't really get major natural disasters here and thank god for it.

Although last year we had all of the year's rain come down in a few days, and my old barn was flooded in 3 feet of water...and the barn owner was at the WEGs. Her non-horsey husband left the horses out in the water for 12 hours. Major fail. She lost most of her boarders and students due to not calling the boarders/leasers when she KNEW what was going on and not giving any direction to her husband. Among other things. Big fiasco. Agh.

Lisa said...


Good Lord indeed! Glad everyone is ok, and that Gogo had the good sense to come in for the night.

Andrea said...

Oh but Alighieri, the power DID go out for the second storm! Thank god I have an alarm on my phone cause I was too terrified to get up and change clocks. And JenJ, we've only had two tiny brief rainsqualls since Feb 4th so we were DYING for rain, and now everything is suddenly REALLY green!

Jennifer said...

Use caution when choosing the bathroom as your safe place.

Two words.. Hot. Water.

Hallway, interior room, in a door jam, might be a better safe place.

Sarah said...

Yup, welcome to Texas. My area just had rain - 10 miles away in one direction had normal hail, 10 miles in another had golf-ball size hail.

I advise new transplants at my work (mostly coming from CA) to do a handful of things. The biggest one, of course, is to figure out where the safe spots in your house are - no windows, interior of house. It's usually a bathroom or an under-stair closet.

The second is to learn the name of your county and the name of the counties to the west of you; predominant weather patterns are out of the west and/or north in North Central Texas, so it's a pretty good bet for me, for example, that if I hear that Wise county is getting beaned, I'm next.

And the last is - if you're really, really worried about it (I usually am - and I'm almost a native!), look into getting a ham radio receiver so you can listen to the storm spotters. Radio Shack should have them. That's what I was doing around 10:30 Sunday night when I was supposed to be asleep; it wasn't clear yet what the storm that dropped that tornado on Alvarado was going to do and I was a bit freaked. My local group seems to be a pretty good barometer as to how serious it is; when they're giving one of their number crap about always being the one to find the worst weather, it's probably OK. And if they're shutting down like they were when I listened in Sunday night... well... I went to bed after listening to them for 5 or 10 minutes.

Minus Pride said...

So glad you survived. This Northeastern girl would FREAK OUT if I came in contact with a tornado.

PS- I'm waiting patiently on the edge of my seat to hear about Future Hubs!!! :)

Sparkling said...

Wow, what an experience! It was like reading the Wizard of Oz, reading that!! You never really realize what's happening until it's happening and it seems pretty surreal, doesnt' it???

SprinklerBandit said...

Ok, jealous of the warm not of the terrifying storms. So glad you and all yours are ok.

Yikes. Fires and tornadoes? You are one tough cookie (which we already knew).

Heather said...

After living in Oklahoma and Kansas for a combined 21 years, I have learned to braid a dog tag with my info into a horses mane and leave them turned out. They are MUCH safer in a field than they are locked in a stall!

Nic Barker said...

Well, you've certainly stopped me whinging about the weather on Exmoor ;-)

Andrea said...

Oh man.... scalding hot water.... didn't even think about that at all. Crap....

Heather, I went back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth) about leaving her out or bringing her in... the owners of the property lost a horse to flying debris (sliced her leg off!!) in the same pasture Gogo lives in, so they always now opt to bring in. Rationale is that if there is a tornado strong enough to destroy your barn, your horse is going to die anyway out in the field from either tornado-ing or flying debris from said barn destruction. I still don't have a really good answer!

eventer79 said...

*shudder* I too have a healthy tornado phobia. I probably would have peed myself. I do NOT miss Texas storms at all. They get even worse down on the coast, where every time you wonder if this is the hurricane that is going to do you in. *more shuddering*

Kate said...

Scary as it may be, the pictures are beautiful!

Nicholas said...

Congrats, your first spring storm south the Mason-Dixon line. Soon you'll be out on the porch watching with the rest of us.