Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Corny Twist

When I got home from work tonight, I told the girls that their dad would be late getting home. He was going to attend a celebration for a project that his team at Collins had certified (I really don't know what "certified" means). He and his co-workers were headed for Carlos O'Kelley's for a buffet, the lucky skunks. So the girls asked if we could go out to eat since Dad got to, and after some discussion we decided to go to the Johnson Avenue Hy-Vee and get Chinese. But it was only 20 minutes before 5PM, and we didn't want to eat too early, so I suggested we drive west toward Blairstown and check out the seed corn fields owned by Pioneer Hybrid Seeds. Hannah signed up to detassel this year, and I wanted to see how badly delayed their plantings were.

So, off we went. The National Weather Service had been warning of the possibility of severe weather, but as we headed west all we got was some brief heavy rain. We saw the fields: they're pretty far behind where they should be (thanks to our extremely wet spring) so detassling will be pushed back to the end of July, when Hannah has band camp. Thus, she may not get to detassel this year since band camp is a priority.

Anyway. We got as far as Keystone, and I turned around to go back. I really didn't think the clouds looked that ominous, but suddenly Mary said, "Hey! That looks like a tornado!" and sure enough, it was. The funnel was long, ropy and hanging in the air, but it did touch down. We could see the debris cloud at the bottom. The tornado was to our north and east, and as soon as I found a safe place to pull over I stopped and called Benton County Emergency Management. I reported what I saw, then pulled back onto the road and kept going. However, the tornado (which had disappeared) came back out. We could see it snaking horizontally across the sky, so we stopped again to see what it would do. It disappeared again. By now the wall cloud carrying the funnel was over Highway 30 and directly in my path, so when we got to Highway 218 we turned north. We heard on the radio that damage had been reported in Benton County at the intersection of Highway 218 and Road E-44. I wasn't sure where that was, but it happened to be the very intersection I was headed for. The only debris we saw was clumps of insulation here and there, and the Van Horne fire department was on the scene checking things out. So we turned east and headed home. The girls kept an eye on the wall cloud, now directly to our south, but nothing more happened. I did get a picture of the funnel on my cell phone - it's at the end of this blog. I should mention that Mary was ecstatic about seeing her first tornado. She loves meteorology, and this is a story she'll no doubt repeat for months. And months. And months.

By the way - we did eventually go into town for Chinese food, and I won a "buy one get one free" Pepsi bottlecap. Wow. I saw my first tornado, and I won a free Pepsi. Adventure, excitement, and a lucky soda purchase.


What a day.