Joplin Tornado

23 May, 2011  |  Written by  |  under Life

There are thousands of people who were really impacted by the Joplin tornadoes. I’m not one of them. To help them, the Red Cross is a great option. They like cash and blood and we all have more of both than we really need!

Cousin Dave warned us we might run into weather.

Ben (10) and Elizabeth (7) were sitting in the back of the ol’ minivan, headed home from Granny’s house in Oklahoma. They were occupied with tormenting each other, playing Minecraft, reading books, all that stuff. As we drove along I-44 into Missouri, it was clear we’d have some serious rain ahead, so I took a peek on the i-Phone. Indeed it was quite a storm system.

We continued on our path around Baxter Springs and up into the southeast corner of Kansas, and started getting tons of rain. A few minutes later, the wind really started to pick up, so I checked AM radio. It was full of tornado warnings in counties I’d never heard of but was probably driving through.


I told Ben: “Stop playing your game and start watching for tornadoes.” He’s never followed instructions faster! I called my lovely wife who was safe at home and told her “I’m 20 miles south of Pittsburg, KS and need you to check for tornadoes.” She says there are several in the area, and that we probably need to get to shelter.

So I’m looking for a place to stop, and there’s a great place. Cinderblock building, no windows, open for business. And three big X’s out front.

It was a rural porn shop. I’d rather die in a ┬átornado than explain any of that to my kids, so we kept driving a little further.

We spotted a Doppler radar tower and adjacent building, and figured we could stop there. Surely the people who tell you to “seek cover” have to let you in! The doors were locked, and the doorbell broken, so we hung around outside under an awning until one of the weather staff arrived at work (all hands on deck). He looked a little unsure about letting us in to the building, but a crying 7 year old with a blankie is pretty convincing, so in we went.

It turned out the building wasn’t just the radar location, it was also the TV studio. So we watched the weather on their breakroom TV, and then the nice-looking weatherman from TV would go off air and then walk through the hall outside where we were sitting. It was odd.

The staff were completely busy getting updates from social media, phone, and their insane amount of weather gear. But every time there was a break, they would head to the windows and look out to see what it was really like. They’d come through the break room every now & then and say Hi, then head back to work.

We heard that there had been a tornado in Baxter Springs, which we’d driven just a couple of miles around. But the big damage was in Joplin, about 10 miles southeast of the station. I’m guessing that most of the folks who work there live in Joplin, and odds are that 3/4 of them had houses that were being destroyed while they were at work getting the word out. They were amazing.

An hour and a half later, the meteorologist came through, asked which way we were heading, and said it would probably be fine. So we headed out, and two minutes later we were past the “dry line” and in the sunshine.

So yay, all’s well and the kids (and I) have an interesting story for a Monday morning. I hope your Sunday was as interesting and safe as ours. Please keep the folks of Joplin in your thoughts!

One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. nicole  |  May 27th, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    thanks for sharing. my brother’s tornado story in OK wasn’t as interesting, but i am glad he and you read the signs and sought out shelter. glad you all are safe.


    nicole - Gravatar

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