A long-winded, semi-diary of last night’s storms in Indiana.

Crazy week. If I’m not mistaken, the bulk of my regular readers have heard tornado sirens and taken cover at some point in the past 72 hours. Hopefully all of you made it through this insane weather safe and sound.

Last night was our turn to get Mother Nature’s hammer. To make it even more fun, S. was working, so it was just me and the girls. It had the potential to be an awful night but actually turned out ok.

The first two waves of storms wrapped around us, skirting us but never hitting. The skies were dark and ominous from about 4:00 on, but other than rumbles in the distance we didn’t get any real action. I was supposed to cover a tennis regional final, and the county where the match was to be played was completely covered in bright red on the radar for most of the evening. They were smart enough to postpone it well before the match began. There were huge storms just to the east and south of Indianapolis. But we kept missing the worst of it.

I put the girls to bed at 8:00. I warned M. and C. that we would probably need to go to the basement later on, and they both understood that they had to be my big helpers. I decided to just put L. in our bed, knowing if I laid down in her bed I would fall asleep and the last thing I wanted to do was sleep through a tornado warning. I was watching the one local TV station that was streaming their storm coverage online while she snored next to me. 1 Storms kept spinning up to the south and east, but we remained dry. To the west, though, the entire Indiana-Illinois border was covered in red. There was a stack of tornado warnings from Chicago to Evansville. I knew the night would eventually get interesting.

I decided to preempt things and get the girls downstairs before the sirens went off. I figured it better to get them settled on the couch and back to sleep before then so they would hopefully sleep right through it. That worked perfectly. I took them downstairs around 10:15. I could hear the sirens from Marion County, which is just a mile away, go off at 10:30. Ours went off about 15 minutes later. The girls did not stir. The winds picked up around 11:00. I finally heard a big rumble of thunder a couple minutes later. Rain drops smacked the windows shortly after that. To our north and east there were possible tornadoes, but we never got more than some stiff winds and heavy rains.

I let the girls sleep until 11:40 or so and then carted them back upstairs. They all settled right back to sleep. I drank a beer to take the edge off and soon followed.

Obviously I’m most thankful that we avoided the worst of the storms. But I was also grateful that the girls got through the night without any drama.

In addition to a live stream of their storm coverage, the station I was watching had a severe weather chat room next to the video. At first I covered it up with my Twitter window. But eventually I read through some of the messages. I understand people get nervous when there are storms, especially after what happened in Joplin last week, but much of the conversation in the chat room was just dumb. A couple of the meteorologists were monitoring in the room, so many participants decided to request specific information for their location. There were as many as 2000 people in the chat, so, as you can imagine, it got a bit ridiculous. I’ve left the grammar and punctuation as they were entered, for added fun.

  • “What is the weather condition in Indy right now? I live in Michigan but have friends in Indy.” There were a surprising number of messages like this, people in other parts of the country asking for updates on specific cities.
  • ”I am scared what should I do?” Probably get out of the chat room, for starters.
  • ”Do you think there will be school or no tomorrow” Priorities!
  • ”Could you please have Angela NOT stand over the eastern part of the state?” There were also tons of messages from people who live well away from Indy complaining about their area not getting enough attention from the meteorologists. And for the record, <a href=”http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/about_us/personalities/Angela_Buchman”>Angela</a> can stand anywhere she wants.
  • ”Alicia, when is (my city) getting hit??? Please help me!!” This popped up every 90 seconds or so, with roughly every city in Indiana mentioned at some point.
  • ”Why must this happen? It has already hurt so many people.” Why does the sun rise in the east? Why is water wet? Why do birds suddenly appear, every time, you are near?
  • ”Are you not answering my questions because I’m German?” My favorite comment of the night.
  • Finally, there was a lengthy argument late in the evening between a chatter who was castigating the station for quoting a county sheriff statement that there were “mass casualties” in Bloomington. Lots of people have friends and relatives in Bloomington, he said, and the station was scaring them needlessly. The meteorologists pointed out that was the official wording the sheriffs used, and casualties simply means injuries. He responded that they should do better reporting and not just repeat what the sheriffs were saying, then called them irresponsible. This went on for a while and finally someone shouted him down: “Maybe you should watch another station.” Indeed.


  1. I forgot to mention I listened to the National Weather Service amateur radio storm network on my iPhone for an hour before the girls went to bed. I can’t help it, I’m a native Kansan. When there are storms, I get geeky.