Let me start off by saying there is almost no such thing as “standard” weather in Maine. We have a saying up here: Wait a minute, it’ll change. The weather is a constant shifting force no matter what the year. Yesterday proved that as we had our first tornado warning while living in our home. One in six years? Not too shabby.
Wait? A tornado warning, in Maine? I don’t buy it, you say. Tornadoes don’t happen here. Well, darling, they do. Mostly they never make touchdown; tornadoes blip up on the radar, are recorded, and then investigated. Those that touch down average an F-1. (For a really good list of tornadoes in Maine from 1950 to 1912, go here.) It was still unnerving to read this pop up at weather.gov and to see similar on our cell phones:
AT 645 PM EDT… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GRAY MAINE HAS ISSUED A
*TORNADO WARNING FOR… SOUTHERN SOMERSET COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL MAINE… SOUTHEASTERN FRANKLIN COUNTY IN WESTERN MAINE…
*UNTIL 645 PM EDT…
* AT 603 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 11 MILES SOUTHWEST OF MADISON…OR 6 MILES EAST OF FARMINGTON…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH.
* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO MADISON…NORRIDGEWOCK AND SKOWHEGAN.
PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… 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.
The tornado picked up on radar wasn’t too far from us. Not to mention shortly after our phones were pinged with a note from NOAA that there was a tornado noticed on radar right above Norridgewock. At this point we were already in the basement.
I didn’t tell you? The above is the second warning we got. The first one came in at 5:30 and was only to last until 6pm. But we live in Maine. Why get in the basement? Doesn’t that seem a little….over the top?
Let me share two videos with you. The first is a clip of a neighborhood in Rochester, Minnesota, about a month after an F-1 hit. The second is an animation of the destruction at different F-cats. Maine has been recorded as having anything from F-0s to F-2s.
A reminder: F0 to and F2 in Maine. Pieces of the house gone and trees bashed around. We live in a highly wooded area, which means one thing: shrapnel. While we have no trees near enough to land on us in a clean fall, there are plenty of big pines and willows with widow makers that would probably be chucked around and our home is full of windows. Needless to say, we decided to follow the advice of the Angels of Preparedness.
I rushed out, shooed the layers into their coop, and locked it up. (People who say you can’t herd chickens are full of it.) I did a quick check on the meat birds in the tractors and raced inside. We got Christine (lovebird) under the kitchen table. Jacks (rabbit) went into the closet in his room, cage and all. Ashes and Diamond came into the basement with us where the brooder boxes and chicks already were.
Little Mister thought our “camping” trip was a blast. We read, we had snacks, played with baby chicks, watched an episode of Wild Kratts on Dada’s phone, and had successful potty breaks. (Yes, I grabbed the potty on the way down. It was purely selfish: I didn’t feel like squatting over the sump pit if I had to pee.) We got to watch the cat get into everything as he explored an area he’s not normally allowed in and Diamond enjoyed a nap on the nice, cold floor.
Might we have gone a little above and beyond? I think not. Even if we did, it was a fun experience “camping” in the basement for an hour or two.