When there’s a possibility of a tornado, as there was here in Highland County over the weekend, I feel much safer than the average potential tornado victim.
Why? I hoped you would ask. It’s because I am blessed to have as a spouse someone who is terrified of tornadoes, enough for both of us.
To be clearer, or more clear, whichever you prefer (I refuse to check the AP stylebook on this point, or any other point) Lora is not just petrified of tornadoes. She is mortified at the thought of a tornado.
Lora hails from West Virginia, which explains why she is terrified of tornadoes. In West Virginia, they don’t have a lot, but what they do have a lot of are mountains, although people who live where there are real mountains laugh at what West Virginians consider mountains.
Nevertheless, mountains tend to inhibit tornadoes, and while West Virginians have plenty to be scared of, such as the very real possibility of more things being named after Robert C. Byrd, they don’t worry much about tornadoes.
So moving here to the relative flatlands of southwestern Ohio, Lora has been on constant alert for tornadoes. If there is one wispy white cloud floating in an otherwise blue and quiet sky, she focuses on that cloud like an ocean swimmer focuses on a circling fin. Is it dropping down? Is there a tail forming? Should we turn on the news to see if there’s a tornado watch?
One of her prerequisites when we were searching for a house in Hillsboro was that it had to come with a basement. We chose one that had a basement, although unfortunately it’s not one of those basements where you can put a pool table or create a man cave.
Instead, it’s one of those basements where the hot water heater and the furnace reside, although not happily. It’s a basement that is so dank, dark, and foreboding, vampires would think twice about hiding their coffins there.
But it serves its purpose, tornado-wise. So when there’s even the possibility of tornadoes, Lora heads for the basement, where she sits in a metal folding chair with a flashlight and a bottle of water, staring at the stone walls.
Meanwhile, I remain above ground, watching the TV weather and occasionally shouting to her loudly enough for my voice to carry down the short flight of steep, rickety wooden stairs.
“Channel 9 says we’re still under a watch,” I shout.
“Okay,” she replies.
“Channel 5 says it should pass in about a half hour,” I update through another yell.
“Thanks,” she meekly replies.
“Channel 12 says a possible tornado was spotted in Brown County,” I holler.
“Keep me posted,” she responds.
After another five minutes, she shouts, “Anything new?”
In reality, by this time I’ve started watching an old film on Turner Classic Movies, and forgotten all about the weather warnings. So, I quickly flip over to Channel 9, because that’s where Steve Raleigh is the Weather Guru.
Steve Raleigh loves nothing more than interrupting your regularly scheduled program to alert you to an impending weather event, such as the possibility of a cloudy day. If there’s even the slightest thing to worry about, Steve Raleigh will interrupt programming for a consecutive month, without a break, if necessary, or even if not.
I don’t mean to pick on Steve Raleigh, but now that I’ve already started, I will. Steve is probably the world’s greatest meteorologist, but he has interrupted enough of my NBA playoff games during the spring to incur my wrath. Once Steve decides to break into a broadcast for a weather update, you can be assured that it might take a John Deere to pull him away.
It could be there’s some kind of rule or law that requires him to warn of us what is considered a “severe weather event,” but these days that seems to mean nothing more than a slight sprinkle.
TV weather forecasters in general, not just Steve, love nothing more than a chance to show off their latest computer gadgetry that shows us, with the most brightly-colored digital graphics, endless repetitions of the same line of storms crossing through Kentucky and into Ohio. Over and over and over and over. And they love the word “tornadic,” as in, “There is the possibility of tornadic activity, according to Doppler.”
So I flip over to Channel 9, and I see that our regularly scheduled programming is still in progress, with only the weather alert text scrolling across the top of the screen.
Therefore, I know nothing too dangerous is happening, or Steve Raleigh would have interrupted his vacation to rush into the studio, break into programming, and breathlessly keep us posted on a small, white cloud drifting across the horizon.
“No change,” I shout down the dark stairs.
“Okay,” Lora answers meekly, flashlight in hand.
Finally, the skies clear, the danger has passed, and Lora agrees to fold up the metal chair, place it back against the wall, turn off the flashlight, and emerge from the dark, dank basement.
It should be noted that for all the same reasons that Steve Raleigh irritates me, Lora loves him. She knows that if there’s even the slightest thing to worry about, Steve will immediately let her know, even if it means I’m the one who has to actually watch him and relay his warnings to the basement.
Gary Abernathy can be reached at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.