If you look up at the sky in California and see dark clouds, you can expect rain. Just rain. Maybe thunder and lightning and possibly hail, but not so often. In states in the mid-west, however, you see dark clouds and you can expect all that and then some. Tornadoes, for example. Speaking as a California girl who has experienced earthquakes, tornadoes are terrifying. I never gave them much thought, until the day I arrived in Missouri and a tornado touched down in nearby Joplin.
A few weeks ago I went to Columbia, Missouri for the Bianchi Cup, a match that I love. We heard about the tornado warnings and I was immediately nervous about that. My mother, on the other hand, was more than comfortable in a situation as exciting as a possible tornado. My uncle (safely in California) was in the same boat as me; nervous. He sent my mother constant reports on the weather, even though some of the time they were a little off.
It was the Bianchi Cup, day one of the match, and I was on the barricades. Actually, I was waiting for my turn which I learned would be delayed for a while because of the rain. There was some thunder and lightning, with dark skies growing even darker. My mom and I sat around and talked to some of the other shooters. Some of the competitors traveled from places all over while others were close to local.
It was a murky day, with huge flat clouds blanketing overhead. I was on the watch for tornadoes, my eyes nearly constantly glued to the skies for any sign of twirling. I learned from locals that swirling clouds were the start of a tornado. After a while, I started feeling restless. I didn’t like just sitting there, and I convinced my mom to go with me to the car, up on a hill, a bit of a distance away, to get my phone so I could text my friends and update them on the weather.
We rummaged in the rental car, I was rambling about how much I hated the weather and my mom was half (or less) listening.
“Shh.” She said, tilting her head to the side then going perfectly still. “Do you hear that?”
I didn’t listen. I was focusing on how to spell “definitely” in a text to one of my friends. My mom shook her head and we walked down the hill back towards the range, when suddenly I picked up a strange noise. A low hum. A low, menacing, scary, hum.
“Mom, those are sirens.” I blurted, “Can we leave?”
Before we could leave, we had to go back down the hill to the range and get my shooting equipment from the spot where we left it. The sirens from the town were almost impossible to hear from the gulch where the range was. Nobody we spoke to had any idea. We went to the score shack, and my mom decided it was best to leave me there while she ran to get my equipment. By this point, I was staring silently at a huge funnel shaped cloud creeping down to earth in front of me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crying. I would also be lying if I said that at that moment I didn’t hate Missouri. When I get nervous or worried, I pace and move. I also feel the need to be with my mom. I shuffled out of the score shack, out from where the volunteers were murmuring and pointing out the window at the same cloud that scared me beyond belief. They were saying things like, “Oh, that’s not good. That’s really not good…”
I saw Julie G, and managed to choke out something along the lines of “I’m scared.”
Julie responded by firmly telling me to get in her car, that we were leaving as soon as she retrieved my mom. Of course, I sat in the car and every second felt like an hour as I stared at the funnel getting closer and closer. Twenty seconds later (it felt like twenty hours) I saw Julie tugging my mom down the range to the car. I saw various shooters pointing at the sky, just beginning to know what could have been coming.
When Julie and my mom were in the car, engine on, riding down the road away from the tornado, we were able to sigh in relief; all in agreement that Missouri certainly is the “show me” state. We were certainly shown the power of nature. The tornado that was headed toward the range didn’t touch down, thank goodness. And when the enormous cloud and storm passed, I managed to pull myself together, went back to the range and ankle deep in mud, I shot my stage.
|Thanks to John Rickards for the pictures!|