Sometime after the construction on the highway in front of our house was finished, and the McDonald’s restaurant and convenience store were put in on land where the package liquor store and the Rawlings sporting equipment factory used to be, and Lee moved his tire shop to the corner of Willow Road and Highway 76, was the installation of a tornado siren.
We are able to hear the siren in town if it goes off – but just barely. The new siren is about 1/2 mile from the house and we can hear it quite clearly.
At about 4:20 a.m. it goes off. Richard is a "night owl", and I am not. I needed to go to bed early last night, so I am sleeping in the “little room” off the porch. I was already mostly awake, but dozing. Not any more.
I lay there for a few seconds, wondering, "is this for real or not?" After the terrible storm that hit Joplin on Sunday, one tends to think twice about these things. Joplin is about 135 miles away, but if it could happen there, it could happen here.
Unfortunately with this siren, one can never be sure if it is the real deal. Several times this spring it has gotten a "short circuit" and has begun to wail for no reason at all. One can ignore a tornado siren in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the bright blue sky.
But not when it is pitch black outside, and through the small window at the foot of the bed, I can see flashes of lightening and hear the rumble of thunder in the distance.
I dare not ignore it.
I get up, get dressed, and step out onto the back porch. The moon is shining brightly. The siren continues to wail.
The NOAA weather radio is not on its hook in the living room. Richard had it in the bedroom last night -- another series of bad storms were moving through the area -- and did not put it back. So I tiptoe in to get it. The regular radio by the bed is on. The NRP station does “BBC World News” over night, and I hear lovely British accents discussing the volcanic eruption in Iceland. The siren has stopped, but Richard did not hear it or news, he is sound asleep.
Back in the kitchen, while I wait for coffee, I learn that there is a tornado on the ground 8 miles north of a small town that is about 30 miles from us, moving away. So I guess the siren was not for real... at least not this time. The computer voice tells me that the tornado warning has been lifted for our county.
I fire up the computer. Another day begins...