Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Twistin' The Night Away!

Ahh. Springtime in Texas, time of the year when wildflowers are in bloom, noses sprout spigots of snot, and full-crazed storm-chasers get their fix.

Talkin' 'bout tornadoes.

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One of my favorite TV shows got usurped by David Finfrock last night. I never did find out whether or not that crack-smokin' patient kicked the bucket or if ol' House did his medical Teaberry Shuffle and pulled a rabbit out of his lab jacket. Because of a big-assed line of thunderstorms, the local television weather teams hijacked regular programming in order to give Superbowl quality play-by-play commentary to the storms passing through.

I guess it just makes sense to use those fancy computerized models to show folks exactly when their ranchette is gonna get picked up and whirled around like Dorothy's farmhouse. As if those blaring sirens going off every second, lightening bolts as big as the state of Rhode Island shootin' out of the pitch black sky, and wind gusts blowing hard enough to peel paint off the car aren't enough clues.

Nope, gotta have our trusty rusty weathermen tell us when to seek shelter immediately. (Just be sure to keep that television tuned in to channel 5 so you don't miss nary a drop of live coverage while you're sittin' in your bathtub wishing you had brought a scotchbrite sponge and can of Comet with you to tackle those unsightly brown rings.)

Just to play it safe, Kman and I have stocked our hall closet with a microwave, couple bags of popcorn, a cooler of Shiner Boch and Dr. Pepper, and the mandatory cow-proof pillows. Heck, it's so cozy, we plan to spend our nights in there 'till tornado season is over.

Ever since that goofy Twister movie starring our own bonafide Cowtown movie star, Bill Paxton, hit the big screen, America has wondered about flying cows. So, here are some tornado facts you might have missed:

*A necktie rack with 10 ties still attached was carried 40 miles. A four-page letter "from a swain to his fair damsel in which he promised all" was carried 70 miles. A flour sack from the Walnut Creek Mill was found 110 miles to the northeast, perhaps the longest distance ever recorded for an object weighing more than one pound. Up to 45,000 migrating ducks were reported killed at Cheyenne Bottoms. Dead ducks fell from the sky 40 miles northeast of that migratory bird refuge.

July 26, 1895 from Readlyn to Dunkerton, Iowa
A 150 pound hog from "an unknown farm" was dropped into another cellar." Two colts were reportedly carried to a height of 1000 feet, appearing as "specks in the sky," then were dropped to their death.

May 18, 1898 in Osseo and Augusta, Wisconsin
A feather bed was carried two miles.

July 16, 1904 in the Chappaqua area of New York
A marriage certificate was carried for three miles. Piano keys were found on a barn roof a mile from the home of origin. A pair of pants was carried for two miles.

June 28, 1906 in Cando, North Dakota
A reaper was carried for a half mile in the Cando area.

April 1, 1912 in Dickson, Tennessee
A box with a hen was carried 200 yards without harming the occupant.

March 21, 1913 from Scyrene to Lower Peach Tree, Alabama
A pillow was carried 20 miles.

June 1, 1917 in Coalgate Oklahoma
A book from Coalgate was dropped inside the walls of the McAlester State Prison, 40 miles to the northeast.

April, 1922 near Orestes to Wheeling, Indiana
A postcard was carried from near Orestes to Mt. Cory, Ohio, 124 miles away, with only a torn corner.

August 7, 1924 near New Auburn, Wisconsin
A coat was found 13 miles from the house where it originated. Shingles were carried 20 miles.

April 29, 1909 1930 Horn Lake, Mississippi to Scotts Hill, Tennessee
Meat from smoke houses was found two miles away.

March, 1932, in Alabama and Tennessee
A check from a Paint Rock, Alabama home was carried to Athens, Tennessee, a distance of about 105 miles.

March 15, 1938 in Belleville, Illinois
A piece of plate glass from a gas station was carried north for 25 miles.

May 20, 1949 in the Hammon, Butler, and Thomas areas of Oklahoma
In a feedlot near Thomas, 13 of 14 cattle were reportedly carried a quarter of a mile from the lot and set down unharmed. "The bawling of cattle could be heard in mid-air and tracks could only be seen leading outward from the spot where they landed."

April 28, 1950 near Clyde, Texas
A small refrigerator was carried for a half mile and lodged at the top of a telephone pole.

June 9, 1953 from Worcester, Massachusetts
At the Blue Hill Observatory, 35 miles east of Worcester, the director recovered a French music box, a three-foot-square aluminum trap door, a two-pound piece of roof, and a couch cover that was frozen solid. A piece of frozen mattress was recovered from Massachusetts Bay, near Weymouth.

August 15, 1954 in New Richmond, Wisconsin
A dog was observed being "carried aloft and away." The dog returned four hours later.

April, 1956 in Wisconsin
A "package of knitted products" from a knitting mill was carried north 35 miles. A "package of papers" was found 75 miles to the NNE. A "carton of deer hides" was reportedly found 6 miles to the northeast.

April 22, 1963 in Illiopolis, Illinois
Cows were carried aloft, set down unharmed, and "acted strangely" for several days.

April, 1963 From Paradise Point, southwest of Moon Lake and southeast of Lula, Mississippi
A social security card was carried 75 miles to Hickory Flat.

May 4, 1965 in Borge, Texas
The second story commode was carried 100 yards.

June 1, 1968 near Watts, Oklahoma to Siloam Springs, Arkansas
A 14-foot boat was carried a half mile.

*Stats courtesy of the Tornado Project.


DarkoV said...

O.K. CP,
You've got me. What in hell are a "mandatory cow-proof pillows"?

Something probably udderly irresistable, I'm sure.

joared said...

Yeah, I wanna know about those pillows, too?

I remember as a Jr. High student in the midwest driving through farm area a few days after a tornado went through. There were tree trunks with slender splinters of wood sticking out of them resembling darts on a dart board.

One farmer reported watching one of his cows lifted high, carried across the road and set down in the pasture on the other side.

Ever since hearing that, I've always wondered what on earth those animals must have thought -- like some events you described in these weird circumstances from the Tornado Project. That would be a good story -- a tornado from an animal's point of view.

Winston said...

I grew up in our version of Tornado Alley in West Tenn and saw a lot of strange things. Weirdest was out on the edge of town a little frame house was picked up off the block foundation, rotated 180 degrees and set back down. There was no damage except where all the wiring and piping for utilities got ripped out. They patched up a couple of chinks in the foundation wall, re-connected utilities, changed the back porch to look more like a front porch, and kept on truckin'.

Peter said...

The second story commode was carried 100 yards.

Not, hopefully, with anyone actually on it.

Gwynne said...

except where all the wiring and piping for utilities got ripped out

...which is why I'm wonderin' just how that microwave is going to work (assuming you fend off the cows with those magical pillows)? Well, at least you'll still have your Shiner Boch. ;-)