I’m a weather nerd. I didn’t use to be, but then I made a record in Nashville in April 2011 during what would turn out to be one of the worst tornado outbreaks in American history and I was forever changed.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I didn’t get caught in a tornado, thankfully – but I saw funnel clouds dropping out of (and thankfilly back up into) the clouds and was under tornado warning off and on for 48 hours. People in the town next to ours lost their lives to the pre-dawn tornado that kept me up all night glued to the TV.
I don’t know how people do it: pick up and rebuild homes and towns in perpetually dangerous paths and live with the possibility of that reoccurrence for 4 months out of every year – or live with that kind of loss for a lifetime.
Like everything else in life, I guess the best way out is always through.
It’s true that, although a warning means a tornado is imminent or happening within the alert area, you may not necessarily be in its direct path. You’re supposed to go to your safe room if you have one or take cover the best you can; but the reality is that some alert areas are so vast – and the alerts so frequent – that a lot of people just monitor the situation until they know they’re directly in the path of something bad.
Case in point: I recorded the vocal for “Learn to Dance,” the last song on my Hope & Other Sins album, while the tornado sirens blared. My producer, Colin, showed me where their safe room was and then we just proceeded to record (his wife meanwhile monitored the news, keeping a eye on the anticipated tornado path).
Colin’s outro guitar on “Learn to Dance” is an homage to the tornado warning we were under – and to the tornado siren now inaudible on the final recording (but still lingering somewhere on the original vocal track).
So why am I telling you all this? Well, I guess it’s to explain the weather pics and musings that I’m going to be posting here from time to time. It comes down to this: I don’t like being scared; so since the best cure for fear is knowledge plus preparation, I started learning about storms – not only Tornado Alley storms, but Ontario storms.
First, I took a weather spotter course and purchased the prerequisite iphone weather apps; then, I made an emergency preparedness kit (my husband teases me a little for being a bit of a grown up Girl Scout, but I doubt there’ll be any teasing the next time we have a 3-day blackout and he wants new flashlight batteries); and finally – having no illusions that I’m anything other than an enthusiastic amateur weather watcher – I started following on Twitter a bunch of folks who really, really know storms…or, at least, as much as you can know about storms.
This is what I’ve discovered so far: Storms, like people, are almost entirely predictable – right up until they change.