Everyone in Oklahoma is familiar with the type of weather we get in the springtime here. This year has been no exception – and we can probably expect it to continue through June. This last week has proven that the storms we get this time of the year can be exceedingly nasty and threatens all of us.
The outbreak of tornadoes this past week has been exceptionally damaging. On Sunday, May 22, 2011, a series of stormy weather cells came tearing through our neck of the woods. Late in the afternoon as we were watching the severe weather alerts on TV, Greg was watching the skies and said “Let’s go look at what’s on the other side of the hill,” meaning the dark, stormy skies to our east. As we walked out the door Channel 6 in Tulsa announced there was a tornado on the ground near Ketchum (which is 3 miles from our farm). We sped out of the driveway, around the hill and down the road to the east. On the north side of the Ketchum airport we saw an electric pole snapped off about 4 feet above the ground and the downed electric lines for a ways. We traveled a little further and spotted the tornado.
The picture we captured of the tornado was about 5 miles east of our farm – we were about 3 miles from our house when we spotted it and took the photo. As was later confirmed by television reports, at this point, this tornado was what they call a water plume – at that time it was traveling across Grand Lake, sucking up the water. We got back into the car and proceeded east down the county road. Shortly thereafter, we began to see emergency vehicles coming in our direction. We decided to go in the same direction and in a few minutes discovered one of the locations the tornado had hit – a little community called Woodland Shores. Power lines were down, huge trees were snapped off and dropped onto houses, boats and cars. We could only get a couple of blocks into this area before the roads were blocked by the damaged trees.
We came back home – it was beginning to get dark and I started supper. Greg was uploading our pictures to Channel 6 Weather in Tulsa. Then we lost electricity – and then the rain came – we got 1.25 inches of rain, mixed with marble-sized hail, in less than 20 minutes. I finished cooking supper while holding a flashlight and we ate by candle- and flashlight. Fortunately, the power was back on in about an hour. Later that night, we got to see our pics on the television during the severe weather alerts on Channel 6.
Monday, May 23, 2011, it rained all day – we got almost 4 inches. In Vinita, they got almost 10 inches of rain, which flooded the highways causing them to be closed by the Highway Patrol. Forrest was in Vinita at work – couldn’t get home because of the flooding and stayed in town with a friend. However, we didn’t have any damaging storms.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 started with sunshine and humidity around 70% – not as bad as Sunday when the humidity was 85%. Hwy 60 was closed both east and westbound at the intersection of Hwy 82 – about 4 miles north of the farm. Forrest still couldn’t come home. However, weather predictions were calling for a series of severe weather to travel across the state later in the day and into the night. We were bracing ourselves – tried to get some work done outside since nothing was accomplished outdoors on Monday. Later in the day, the waters subsided and the highways opened for traffic. We watched the weather non-stop beginning in mid-afternoon until around 10:30 that evening. Fortunately we were missed here at the farm, but others in Oklahoma were not. Tornadoes, torrential rainfall and damaging winds skipped across the state from west of I-35 all the way into Arkansas; winds were clocked up to 100 mph in some locations. At the farm, we did get a good 1/2 inch of rain in a fairly short period of time, but no hail, no damaging winds, and best of all, no tornadoes.
Fortunately, Greg had a cover crop of clover growing in between the rows in the garden and I was able to carefully walk down the rows yesterday afternoon. I gathered lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and radishes. I made a huge chef salad for supper and added tender bits of the leftover steak I had cooked by flashlight Sunday evening. Katricia had a friend over from Vinita to spend the night and Forrest made it home. All was well.
Today? Well the storms are supposed to be over for now and hopefully stay at bay through Memorial Weekend. It’s too wet to do much in the garden, but there’s plenty of other chores to take care. This morning we are going to get fish to stock the ponds. And life goes on.