So you've probably heard about the stormy weather across the Southeast this spring. The front that most impacted North Carolina actually began in Arkansas on April 14th. By the 16th, the storms had made it to our state. It was very weird, Durham was almost the calm at the center of the storm. We had gone out to Costco, which is 7 miles north of us, and the sky was ominous, but it was still rather warm out, we even put the top down on our convertible. When we were finished shopping and were loading our groceries into the car, it had started raining. By the time we got on the road the rain was pretty heavy and so were the winds, driving was rather tricky. However, when we got home (just 7 miles, remember!) the rain was only sort of "spitty" while the winds were still heavy.
Our neighbors were heading out and asked about the weather. Since we'd driven out of the storm, we told them that the rain wasn't that bad but it was windy. Imagine our chagrin when, after putting away the groceries, we discovered that we were under a Tornado Warning! We turned on the local 24-hour news channel immediately. Not much later in the afternoon there were EIGHT simultaneous warnings as the storms swept across the state. Oddly, outside our window it was still just dark with some spitty rain which occasionally picked up for a short time.
South Durham ended up weathering the storms quite well. As you've surely seen in the news, though, the rest of the state was severely affected. With 24 deaths and over 80 injuries, as well as about 800 homes and businesses damaged statewide, the impact was akin to the hurricanes which often pummel our state. Clean-up and recovery is still going on, so it was good that the second batch of storms this past week didn't come to North Carolina.
The most difficult part of the tornadoes for me was, as usual, the aftermath coverage we did at work. It made for a very busy week and not only was it a struggle to rearrange our crews and shows, the subject matter was difficult to watch and report.
I have to admit, however, that I am a little jaded after all my years in the TV biz. I kept joking about the Tornado Trifecta. My fellow TV folks know what I mean, but for the rest of you, it's the three things you always hear in witness comments after the fact: "Sounded like a freight train. Never seen anything like it. Lucky to be alive." No one had the trifecta in their coverage, but that's probably good because, in fact, these storms were no joking matter - even when jokes are the only thing helping you get through the coverage.
Tornadoes are not nearly as common here in North Carolina as they are back in my native Ohio.
One of my earliest memories is of there being a tornado in the small town of Bryan, Ohio where I was living. We didn't have a basement and everyone went to the one house on the block that did. Many people here don't know what to do during a tornado. As soon as we heard we were in a Warning, we knew we needed to go into the master bathroom (most interior room, no windows) if things looked bad. There are no sirens here either. Even after 12 years of living in North Carolina, when I hear a fire siren, I still stop to hear if it will waver or stay steady (non-Ohioans, a steady siren means tornado, a wavering siren means fire).
I'm glad that we and all our loved ones came through the storms okay. This has already been an odd season weather-wise, I hope that hurricane season isn't too bad.