May 17, 2013

Oh, what a night

Wednesday evening found me traveling home from a meeting in Oklahoma City.  Originally, I was supposed to have others riding with me (which had prevented me hitting up Tina for dinner plans!), but their plans changed at the last minute and I found myself alone on the way home. 

I stopped briefly in Moore, OK, to hug my Uncle Mo on my way out of town.  He has a new retiree dream job at a golf course, working two days per week in exchange for all the golf he can play.  As we sat visiting in his domain (the cart barn), it began to rain steadily and the golfers came pouring in off the course, saying that it wasn't going to let up.  I soon decided they were right, and made a run for the car to head south.

My phone's weather app was acting wonky, so I called home to get a read on the weather between Moore and home.  At the time, the line of storms was just that, rain storms, and my traveling speed would put me south of the rain in about 50 miles.  If there were no other distractions, I could make it to the Fried Pie shop at exit 51 before they closed at 7 pm.

I hadn't gone far when my phone rang, with motherly advice to keep my radio on local stations instead of satellite, as the storms that were supposed to dissipate were starting to spin up.  I had already made that switch, as the rain was only getting heavier and the skies to the south and west looked pretty menacing.

About ten minutes later, the first of the National Weather Service severe storm warnings sounded.  While a great and necessary service, the list of cities affected doesn't help travelers who aren't terribly familiar with the names of surrounding towns.  If it isn't on a highway sign, I don't necessarily know where the hell it is.  Just after I passed through Ardmore, they sounded a tornado warning, with another list of unfamiliar town names, but I caught "Love County" just as I passed a highway sign declaring that I was in it.

As I was talking on the phone, trying to verify the location of the storm and the path, the sky turned that eerie shade of green - if you have been in or near a tornado, you know what I am talking about.  I got off the highway at the next exit and pulled into a gas station where I hunkered down with the family that owned it, and a handful of other wayward travelers that were either anxious to protect their vehicles from hail, or didn't want to drive into a tornado.  I can't say enough nice things about the lovely owners of the Valero on Oswalt Road.  They were just as scared as their customers, but welcomed everyone inside and let us know the layout of the backroom areas, in case we needed to take cover.

Eventually, that line passed and I continued south toward home, in fits and starts, pulling off the highway two more times to wait out the purple splotches and hook echoes on the radar.  I had just committed to staying on the highway near the Texas-Oklahoma border, when a storm chaser truck flew by me, making me wish all the more that I had used my better judgement and gotten off at the last exit (where I could have spent the night at Winstar Casino).

I finally made it home, and feel blessed to have done so unscathed, considering the extreme weather that struck to our north and south. 

1 comment:

InsomniacSeeker said...

Dinner plans would have been great. Maybe next time you're up here.
I am glad you got home safe.
We have great weathermen/women up here and they really try to make sure everyone is safe and has plenty of warning, and yeah, I would never follow a storm chaser. Those guys are nuts.