THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN DIEGO HAS ISSUED A * TORNADO WARNING FOR... ORANGE COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST CALIFORNIA... THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF...SEAL BEACH...HUNTINGTON BEACH...WESTMINSTER...GARDEN GROVE...IRVINE...FULLERTON...COSTA MESA...ANAHEIM... * UNTIL 130 PM PST * AT 1237 PM PST... NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 17 MILES SOUTHWEST OF HUNTINGTON BEACH...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH. * THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR... HUNTINGTON BEACH BY 110 PM PST... FOUNTAIN VALLEY... COSTA MESA... WESTMINSTER AND GARDEN GROVE BY 120 PM PST... SANTA ANA BY 125 PM PST... TUSTIN... TUSTIN FOOTHILLS... ORANGE AND 6 MILES NORTHWEST OF IRVINE BY 130 PM PST... PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... IN ADDITION TO THE TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING THREE QUARTER TO ONE INCH HAIL AND DESTRUCTIVE STRAIGHT LINE WINDS.
WHEN A TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED BASED ON DOPPLER RADAR... IT MEANS THAT STRONG ROTATION HAS BEEN DETECTED IN THE STORM. A TORNADO MAY ALREADY BE ON THE GROUND... OR IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP SHORTLY. IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS DANGEROUS STORM... MOVE INDOORS AND TO THE LOWEST LEVEL OF THE BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF DRIVING... DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER A HIGHWAY OVERPASS. THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS AVAILABLE... SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE... LIE FLAT IN THE NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.
No where in this official memo does it say to run around like a chicken with your head cut off but that is precisely what happened when I found out that a tornado was headed for my neighborhood. I was home from work sick and I wasn’t even watching tv… Tori called me and asked me why I was still at home when there was a tornado fixing to touch down in Huntington Beach. At first what she said didn't compute and then when I realized what she was saying I had no idea what I was supposed to do. It was raining in every direction and there was hail bouncing off of the tin roof of my house. The wind was blowing and howling and it was very scary. I tried to turn my tv on but the wind had knocked the satellite out of whack so I had no reception for a couple of minutes. When it finally came on the news reporters were saying that if you lived in a mobile home in any of the reported areas then you needed to head for higher ground. So my first thought was that there was no way I was going to be able to round up all 9 of my cats and get them in to the car so I decided that Lorenzo and Elijah would be the two most vulnerable in the event that my house fell apart. I wasted a good 10 minutes trying to get either one of them in to the cat carrier. You would have thought there was a bear trap in there! There was no way that either one of them was going to ever SORT of get inside that box. I wasn't able to get either one of them even 1/10 inside of it. It was raining and hailing and making so much noise that Elijah was scared to death and my trying to shove him in to the box that takes him to the vet wasn't making him any less afraid. I wound up wrapping Elijah and Lorenzo in a towel, individually, and throwing them in the car. By the time I got inside the car Elijah was sitting under the brake pedal and Lorenzo was sitting right on top of him. It took me another 5 minutes to pry them out of that spot. It is amazing what cats can do when they do not want to be moved. There were 8 feet glued to the carpet. When I finally got Elijah out from under there there was white cat fur EVERYWHERE. And I mean it was flying like fairy dust. When cats get scared they hit the "eject" button and there is more fur in the air than on their backs.
We drove out of the mobile home park and up a residential street and it looked like a war zone. The rain was over the curbs and there were palm fronds and debris everywhere. It was a mess! My mom called to make sure that I was evacuating and then my brother in law sent me a text telling me they had just gotten word of a tornado in my area. I would expect this notification from my mom and sister but I was blown away when my brother in law took time out of his busy day to think of my well being. I told Tori this and she said that the person who alerted her to the impending disaster was her hair dresser who remembered that I lived in a mobile home in Huntington Beach. (It’s amazing the things that people remember. I barely even know the woman who called Tori. What an angel she turned out to be.)
I had only been able to make it a few blocks from my house when my mom called again and told me that the tornado had already blown through HB and was now on its way toward Tori’s house. So I slowly drove back home and me and my little boys sat in the car for a while. I wanted to make good and sure that the worst was behind us because I knew for certain that once I got the boys back in to the house there was no way I would ever get them back in to the car. (point in case..I never saw Elijah again once we got in the house and Lorenzo, who usually sleeps on me..slept on the other couch..and I caught him looking at me a couple of times and I’m pretty sure that he was thinking that he’d better keep his distance from me because I had obviously lost my mind.) Had we not been given the "all clear" I don't know where I would have gone. There was no way I was going to try to carry two scared and angry cats inside of a shelter and I wouldn't have left them in the car alone. I truly thank God that I didn't have to figure out what I should have been doing, but I think that I should come up with an escape route in case something like this ever happens again.
Tori called me again and told me that she went to Hannah and Jake’s schools to check them out early because she felt safer having them at home. Apparently many parents in the greater Riverside area wanted their kids home before any tornado ravaged the place because there was a mob scene at both schools. (Having been on the other end of that situation as a clerk at an elementary school… most parents don’t realize that the majority of schools are also designated foul weather shelters and school is pretty much the safest place the kids could be.) But anyway, she got them home and she said that of course by the time she got them both out of their respective schools it was sunny and bright and it wasn’t even raining anymore.
So…all’s well that ends well. Actually the only damage I sustained was a leak in my roof...directly on top of my computer. Mazeltov!