Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sirens and Storms

We live right across the street from the old Hudson Town Hall. On the roof is the town's storm siren.  In the picture you can see it on the roof. We generally don't have much trouble hearing it: When it's operating, you see, we can't hear another thing until it runs out of steam or terror or whatever animates it.

Last evening--with many tornado warnings in the area--it went off. And Joyce and I padded down to the basement, where the spiders and other residents were alarmed to see us. This is their home, not ours! We waited awhile (the siren ceased), then headed back upstairs, figuring it was better to be whirled off with Dorothy and Toto than to be in that dank basement another moment

I grew up in Oklahoma (1944-1952, 1953-1956) and the Texas Panhandle (1952-53)--Tornado Alley--where I spent a lot of springtime worrying about tornadoes. We had drills at school, which were remarkably similar to the atomic bomb drills (crouch under your desk). Even at age 8 I knew these drills were pointless, but at least we were doing something, which, generally, is better than nothing.

I never saw a tornado in Tornado Alley. I did see some pretty terrifying skies, which would boil red and green (hard to believe, but true). And tornadoes were always smacking folks in communities around us. But somehow we escaped.

In 1985, when I was teaching at Harmon Middle School in Aurora, Ohio, we were setting up for our annual 8th Grade Farewell-to-Harmon Show, about an hour before the 7:30 curtain. I heard noise, went to the back door, looked up and saw a fearsome cloud passing over the school. Shortly afterwards a large tornado (F5) touched down in nearby Newton Falls and did terrific damage--though no one was killed. And our show went on.

Newton Falls High School
after the May 31, 1985, tornado

(YouTube Video about Newton Falls tornado.)

That was as close as I've ever come ...

Last night (Monday) I watched the TV news and was struck by the coverage--four solid hours on the Cleveland stations. Lots of Doppler radar and weather people improvising. No twisters had actually touched down; no damage was reported (at least during the time I watched)--just lots of wind and rain and lightning. And sirens. But the stations kept telling people in various communities to go to their basements or "safe places"--and to wear bicycle helmets, if possible.

I know that the chances of a twister dancing down your specific street are slight--virtually nil, really. Still, when that siren goes off--right across the street!--and the sky is too dark to see much? Well, it's time to go visit the spiders, clutch your loved ones, and, later, to thank your lucky stars.


  1. Thought I would point out that the siren is not the little thing sticking up in the front, it's actually quite large, as seen in the pictures below:


    That's a huge siren...it's a model 3T22 made by Federal Signal Corporation.


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