In case you couldn’t tell, Oklahomans are a hearty folk. I’ve been in Edmond when tornadoes were flying by. There’s no way I’d be able to take it every year, much less joke about it like some of my OK friends. This is from an e-mail one sent me.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with tornadoes and are hearing news coverage of this, here is a short glossary to help you understand.
Fujita Scale: Scale used to measure wind speeds of a tornado and their severity.
F1: Laughable little string of wind unless it comes through your house, then enough to make your insurance company drop you like a brick. People enjoy standing on their porches to watch this kind.
F2: Strong enough to blow your car into your house, unless of course you drive an Expedition and live in a mobile home, then strong enough to blow your house into your car.
F3: Will pick your house and your Expedition up and move you to the other side of town.
F4: Usually ranging from 1/2 to a full mile wide, this tornado can turn an Expedition into a Pinto, then gift wrap it in a semi truck.
F5: The Mother of all Tornadoes, you might as well stand on your front porch and watch it, because it’s probably going to be quite a last sight.
Meteorologist: A rather soft-spoken, mild-mannered type person until severe weather strikes, and they start yelling at you through the TV.: “GET TO YOUR BATHROOM OR YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!”
Storm Chaser: Meteorologist-rejects who are pretty much insane but get us really cool pictures of tornadoes. We release them from the mental institution every time it starts thundering, just to see what they’ll do.
Tranquilizer: What you have to give any dog or cat who lived through the May 3rd, 1999 tornado every time it storms or they tear your whole house up freaking out of their minds.
Moore, Oklahoma: A favorite gathering place for tornadoes. They like to meet here and do a little partying before stretching out across the rest of the Midwest.
Bathtub: Best place to seek shelter in the middle of a tornado, mostly because after you’re covered with debris, you can quickly wash off and come out looking great.
Severe Weather Radio: A handy device that sends out messages from the National Weather Service during a storm, though quite disconcerting because the high pitched, shrill noise used as an alarm sounds suspiciously just like a tornado.
Tornado Siren: A system the city spent millions to install, which is really useful, unless there’s a storm or a tornado, because then of course you can’t hear them.
Storm Cellar: A great place to go during a tornado, as it is almost 100% safe, though weigh your options carefully, as most are not cared for and are homes to rats and snakes.
May-June: Tourist season in Oklahoma, when people who are tired of bungee jumping and diving out of airplanes decide it might be fun to chase a tornado. These people usually end up on Fear Factor.
Barometric Pressure: Nobody really knows what this is, but when it drops a lot of pregnant women go into labor, which makes for exciting moments as their husbands are trying to drive them to the hospital and dodge tornadoes at the same time.
Cars: The worst place to be during a tornado (next to a mobile home). Yes, you can out run a tornado in your car…unless everybody on the road decides to do the same thing, and then you’re in grid lock.
A Ditch: Supposedly where you’re supposed to go if you find yourself without shelter or in your car during a tornado. Theoretically the tornado is supposed to pass right over you, but since it can lift a 20 ton truck and up root a three hundred year old tree, I’d bet my life on out-running it in a car.
Mobile Home: Most people are convinced mobile homes send off some strange signal that triggers tornadoes, because if there’s one mobile home park in a hundred mile radius, the tornado will find it.
Earthquake: What any Californian would rather go through on any scale of severity than face a tornado.
Tornado: What any Oklahoman would rather go through on any scale of severity than face an earthquake.
Twister: Slang for ‘tornado’ and also the title to a movie starring Helen Hunt, which incidentally everyone thought was corny and unrealistic until May 3rd, 1999.
Power Flash: One of the most reliable ways to track a tornado at night, it’s the term used when the tornado hits a power line and a bright light flashes. It’s also the emotion experienced by meteorologists when they get to make the call to interrupt prime-time must-see TV. and a million dollars worth of advertising to track a storm for viewers.
Here are some phrases you might want to learn and be familiar with:
“We’ll have your electricity restored in 24 hours,” which means it’ll be a week.
“We’re going to be out for a week, so buy a lot of supplies and an expensive generator,” means it’s going to be on in twelve hours, probably as soon as you return from Wal-Mart.
“It’s a little muggy today.” Get outta town. It’s getting ready to storm.
“There’s just a slight chance of severe weather today, so go ahead and make your outdoor plans.” Ha. Ha ha ha ha.