A setting sun struggles to punch its way through evening clouds in central Texas. Photo by Steve Martaindale.

We had our first valid tornado threat of the season a few weeks ago.

Anyone who lives in Tornado Alley (however it’s defined; see this) understands. Anyone who does so in a recreational vehicle or mobile home deeply understands.

Forecasts refused to back down from the threat of severe weather and Leah and I eventually got serious about it as the storm front continued its approach. I started by checking out the laundry / rest rooms building at the RV park. It seemed fairly sound, certainly better than our trailer.

Since the park manager was away on a trip, we started notifying a few people who are older and alone and spread the word to others in case they wanted to join us. The manager’s mother was one we checked on, knowing her daughter and son-in-law were out of town. When she called them, her son-in-law told her to unlock the office for everyone. I didn’t like the windows, but it did have a television so we could track weather reports and, besides, the laundry was right next door.

Honestly, I didn’t expect many to join us, but people begin showing up as the skies darkened. More than a dozen hung out in and around the office.

There we were, mostly strangers, sharing stories and watching meteorologists and eying the skies. We got to know people we’d only waved at before. Stealing the show was a 6-month-old cutie who seemed to assume she was the reason we were all gathered together.

The strongest storms split and skirted us, dropping little rain and no hail. Winds were high but not dangerous. Lightning filled the skies but seemed to stay there. During a break in cloud cover, I looked up and saw Orion’s belt. As we gazed at the stars, we decided it was safe to go home.


Someone pointed to the east, and we spotted what appeared to be a funnel cloud. While it was moving away from us, I think everyone decided to stick around just a little longer.

One more thing

Some parks have designated storm shelters, usually brick and mortar meeting rooms, laundries, office, etc.

Several years ago, we were near Toomsuba, Miss., and sound asleep when someone banged on our door.

“This is Guy, from the office,” he yelled. “We’re under a tornado warning; I suggest you move to the rest rooms at the office.”

After alerting everyone, Guy opened the office, turned on the TV and started a pot of coffee.

A park we’ve visited outside Tulsa has an impressive storm shelter on site. I mean, it’s so tough looking, I bet some folks almost wish to ride out a tornado in it.

On the other end of the spectrum is a park in Kennebec, S.D. While the town has a population of only 281 people, it is the county seat, when means it has a courthouse. Instructions for people staying at the RV park were, in case of a tornado threat, to go to the courthouse. I think it even said the park owner had a key.

One thought on “EF-fun”

  1. Wow, Steve, that was fascinating to read! One often thinks of mobile homes during tornadoes, but I hadn’t thought of RV parks. Thank goodness there are places to shelter! Even if you have to go down the street to the courthouse.


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