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Coffee Break with Liz and Kate » Headline, http://dailymom.com/how-to-write-profile-essay/ » viagra vs cialis vs levitra

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To say this past weekend’s weather found me a little on edge would be an understatement. For several days, weather forecasters had placed a bull’s eye on Kentucky, where the atmosphere was prime for tornadoes. Strong tornadoes.

Words like that always take me back to the deadly twister outbreaks on April 3, 1974. I still remember that day with great clarity.

I’d been staying with a friend for a few days – Mom and Dad were somewhere in Georgia, driving back home. We were outside playing T-ball in the warm and windy sunshine, when her mother told us we were under a tornado watch. As the afternoon progressed, my sense of unease grew. My friend totally dismissed me.

“Nothing’s gonna happen,” she’d said.

Oh, really? I thought. You’re the same girl who was driving us on your mini-bike and ran us into an electric fence on your

Photo by John Labore, April 3, 1974 at the hometown of Liz and Kate

own farm, all the while insisting it was your farm – you’d know if there was a fence there. I’d like to point out that I still carry the scars on my right arm and right leg, courtesy of the fence that “wasn’t there.”

Anywho. It was a Wednesday. We left for town for choir practice, where my friend’s mom dropped us off. It seemed odd that there was almost no one at church – even though we’d arrived a little early. We’d soon found out why: church services had been called off because of the severe weather threat.

I called my parents. No answer. Called my grandparents. No answer. Looked around for anyone I knew. Saw no one.  So I did what any 11-year-old would do. I panicked, convinced that this was where it would end. Right there in the parking lot at Cynthiana Baptist Church.

Which is about the time that the warning sirens sounded, setting the tone for what I was certain would be a life-long love/hate relationship with severe weather. From that day forward, that same sense of panic never failed to accompany a severe thunderstorm warning – much less a tornado warning. Yep, I suffered from Lilapsophobia.

I’m not sure what prodded me to attend a weather-spotter class at Bluegrass Airport about 15 years later. For a half-dozen weeks, I attended the class, learning everything I could about tornadoes – how to judge clouds, spot funnel developments, read the radar. You name it – if it was severe-weather related, I was the girl to know.

Then came the movie, Twister. If I’ve watched it once, I’ve watched it a hundred times. I wonder if that would be considered self-inflicted torture…

Oddly enough, while I lived in Florida, I rarely gave tornado warnings (much less watches) the time of day. Maybe it was because I lived on an island, and felt certain that most of Florida’s tornadoes hit on the mainland. Who knows. I even followed a water spout one time, and remember thinking I’d probably make a good weather chaser. I’d even made it through the hurricane season that brought us such jewels as Frances and Jeanne, among a few others that weren’t direct hits.

But the moves back to Tennessee and then Kentucky brought the Lilapsophobia back in rare form. Needless to say, I wasn’t well-served when I got a Tweet from my favorite meteorologist Chris Bailey yesterday:

Potential historic tornado outbreak unfolding today from the deep south into lower Ohio River Valley.

Enter that sinking feeling. “So this is how it ends,” I thought, as memories of 1974 and Twister combined into a new, more violent blockbuster movie in my mind. By mid-afternoon, the first line of storms was rapidly approaching. (And I was scrambling to clean out the closet under the staircase…). It was about that time that Colton and two of his friends came in. One of them was in tears.

“We’re all gonna die,” he said.

“We’re not gonna die,” I quipped. “Calm down.”

It was as if something inside me snapped. I wasn’t about to deal with whiners. Which meant if I wasn’t gonna allow them to whine, I couldn’t whine either. My attitude changed from panic to awareness. I tested the flashlight’s batteries, fully charged my cell phone, put a blanket in the now-cleared closet and went about the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Meanwhile, Chris Bailey kept tweeting the tornado warnings, as the storms were starting to fire up again. I decided to check out his blog and look at the radar, and noticed he was going to take the site “live”.

For the first time since I chased the water spout, I was actually looking forward to following the storms. Apparently I was far from alone. Over the next three hours, more than a thousand people got in on the act, chatting live from as far away as Utah, (was that you, Kate?) asking how bad it would get, what to look for, when it would be over.

Others were reporting the weather in their back yards: shelf clouds, bows on the radar, hail, green skies. That was what I wanted to be doing! So I walked outside, observed and reported my findings. Instead of being afraid, I was excited!

Colton didn’t immediately  share my sentiments. So I brought him in to watch the radar, showed him what was meant by the “bow” in the radar, helped him understand the purple, red, orange and yellow clusters, and let him read the live weather chat.

Luckily, central Kentucky was spared the worst of the weather. The mid-afternoon storms had dropped the temperatures into the low 60s, stabilizing the air just enough to keep Mother Nature from going bonkers.

Part of me was a little disappointed. Another part was relieved. At least momentarily. The atmospheric stage is setting up  for a similar severe weather outbreak next weekend. 

-Liz

For purposes of entertainment, nostalgia and/or history, here’s a broadcast from WHAS in Louisville, KY on April 3, 1974.

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