23 May HOLY COW -SISTERS!
“WEATHER FORECAST FOR TONIGHT: DARK.”
Being a native Kansan I have had experiences with tornadoes. In fact I have probably seen more tornadoes than most Kansans. When I worked at Cowtown we had visitors from California come in and say “we don’t know how you can stand to live in Kansas with all those tornadoes!” My reply was always that “most Kansans won’t see a tornado in their lifetime, but how do you stand California because it shakes, burns, and slides and that affects every one there?
My first tornado was actually seven of them, all in the air at the same time. They were funnels but one or two did actually hit the ground. I also saw the Goddard Tornado that started down by Lake Afton moved towards Goddard then took a bend and moved southeast and hit Thome Turkey Farm on MacArthur and 151st St. West. I was setting in the wheat truck at the home place south of Schulte and we were trying to get a low place cut out before the rain storm that was coming. Grandpa had taken the pickup to the elevator and when he came back it was in record time and I never saw him drive so fast in my life. I got out and asked him what was wrong. He said turn around. That huge black rainstorm was actually the tornado and it had thinned down enough to actually identify it. I drove a half full wheat truck to the barn and made a U-turn into the shed without backing up and lining it up. That has never been done before or since.
My first response to a tornado was when I had joined the Heavy Rescue Unit of what was then Civil Preparedness (formerly Civil Defense). We were in the station at 31st and Oliver when a storm passed by. The calls came out that a mobile home park had been hit on Greenwich Road and they were calling for wreckers and manpower. Since our unit had a wrecker and we were in the station we responded with most of our equipment. It is amazing what you can do with a little adrenaline. When I was going through a mobile home looking for casualties and found a wall on top of a baby crib. I lifted the wall by myself off that crib. Thank goodness there was not a baby in it.
I chased tornadoes on the fire department because we had set areas to spread warnings in during tornado warnings that did not have warning sirens. It also was strategic, we had all the equipment out of the station and scattered if the station was hit. That way we did not lose our trucks.
I would have been a driver for chasers when I was younger if I had the chance but I did not. All my life I have wanted good pictures of a tornado and was never at the right spot with my camera. Until the other day.
I had just laid down for a nap (don’t laugh, you will get stove up someday). When the scanner went off and said that there was a tornado on the ground two miles north of Medicine Lodge. We are ten miles north. I jumped, OK crawled, out of bed and grabbed my camera.
There she was. From my porch I shot a string of pictures as the tornado progressed across country just south of us and went between us and the neighbors with no damage. Then it happened. The shot of a lifetime, SISTERS! Three tornado’s were wrapping around each other dancing and I got two shots of the sisters.
Sixty two years and not only did I get some great pictures but I had a picture of sisters. WOW! Now that is close enough and things can settle down again. But I am tickled pink.