Two hours ago the tornado sirens sounded. It’s mid-winter, but central Illinois was apparently threatened with annihilation by destructive atmospheric vortices.
Immediately, fifty thousands residents rushed to the TV and their local weather station: ground radar displays a huge line of storms heading straight for our town; tornado warnings and watches are in force over the entire area; the weather girl is virtually orgasmic, her normally shrill warble managing another two octaves at the sheer joy of reporting something more arousing than the endless round of snow and ice events predominant at this time of year.
A cold front from Canada is colliding with the warm southerly flow presently basking central Illinois in temperatures of sixty-five degrees. The result is hell breaking loose. Three major storms are due to intersect over our county at any moment. Rotation has been spotted in the upper atmosphere. The weather girl virtually wets herself as she shrieks for everyone to take cover: go to the lowest floor of your house, hide in a room with no windows; cover yourself with something protective; bend down, head between the legs, kiss your ass goodbye……
My wife looks across at me as we sit on our sofa in the living room. We are on the lowest level; we have no room without windows. I shrug, get up, and peer out into the winter bleakness. The sky is gray; it’s raining slightly, the trees sway lithely in a light, southerly, breeze.
The TV screen is a bedlam of swirling radar, large red and yellow blotches, superimposed arrows tracing the storm’s path – straight towards our house, it appears. Breaking news, a barn has been demolished not five miles away; the local weather-tracker van is rushing to bring us pictures.
My wife vanishes into the bedroom and reappears with four pillows. I raise an inquiring eyelid.
“To cover our heads,” she says.
I nod, as though sitting on a sofa with pillows on my head is an obviously sane and sensible idea in the circumstances. After all, she’s the Illinoisan; she knows about these things. I’m just a Brit with no experience of tornadoes.
Suddenly, the weathergirl’s hysteria climaxes. We’re all about to die. I consider reaching for a pillow. A bright-red blotch covers our bit of the map; the heaven’s open and raindrops bounce off the shingles.
For a full two minutes the cloudburst continues unabated. Then, as swiftly as it arrived, it departs. Somewhere, away in the distance, one lonesome rumble of thunder.
I turn back to the TV for guidance, but they’ve switched to adverts.
Filed under: Illinois excitement