Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

radiumgirl: (chuck bartowski)
 After work, I got pizza with Rooney. Sure, Western PA had been under a tornado warning since the middle of the afternoon, but hey, the pizza place is (kinda) close to home and we never actually get any tornadoes anyway. It's all hype. Yup. Hype.

I'll sit down now.

That picture is actually about ten or fifteen miles north of me. I have a friend whose parents live about a block up from this street. They're okay. Their yard is a mess, but this street appears to have gotten the brunt of it.

I didn't take this picture either. I'm stalking the local news websites. When this picture was taken, I was actually about six blocks up the street, sitting in my car going "Shit shit shit shit shit" as I watched the sky turn green and all the fire-whistles downtown went off at the same time. Rooney and I had just parted ways at the pizza place. We had ridden out the first wave of storms with beer and pizza and tv, and when the weatherman said there was a second wave coming, we realized that we were out of pizza and if we left right now maybe we'd make it to our destinations before Suck Zone II.

That's right. We ventured out of the relative safety of the squat, brick, pizza parlor and into our cars, which we then drove in known tornado-like conditions...because we were out of pizza and slightly bored.

We both hold MAs from accredited universities. America's best and brightest, right here.

I got about five minutes up the road when I looked at the sky, all green and dark and crazy like that and decided, "This might have been a bad idea." I was sitting at a red-light downtown when all the sirens went off and every traffic light instantaneously turned yellow. It could very well have been some electrical glitch...but I took this as a sign: shit's about to get real and you should probably take cover, traffic laws be damned.

I decided on Shop n'Save: brick building, one-level, wide-open parking lot. The wind and the hail was beating poor Lucy the Staypuft Marshmallow Car so badly. I kept wincing and waiting for my windshield to shatter. There are three stop signs on Lincoln Avenue, and I only remember stopping for one. Very very very briefly.

I flew into the parking lot and Shop n' Save's lights flickered, but didn't go out. There were people lined up along the front windows, and some were standing outside beneath the overhang right outside the door. I slammed the car into park, slammed my palm down on the lock button, and stood outside in the freezing wind, rain, and hail trying to open my umbrella like a dunce because, and I remember having this thought exactly, "I don't want to get a concussion from the hail."

Yeah. Your umbrella's totally gonna shield you from golf ball sized hail. Moron.

Needless to say, the umbrella blew away as soon as I ran around the back of the car. I flailed futilely after it, then watched a thick bolt of purple lightening flash across the sky. To my left, the last remnants of pitiful light were consumed by green swirls. To my right, the direction I had driven from, was a wall of black.

The sky roared.

My eyes went O.O

Fuck the umbrella.

I ran forward, watching the gawkers who had been outside quickly fall all over each other in an attempt to get inside. I slid on a puddle and hit the sidewalk with my arms stretched out in front of me and an old guy in a red hat and younger woman in yoga pants grabbed me and yanked me inside.

The Shop n' Save seemed eerily quiet in comparison to the insanity outside. The manager asked us to step away from the windows. I sat on the floor next to a candy rack. The old guy in the red hat said he saw a funnel. I didn't, but it got hard to see after a bit. We couldn't see the cars parked thirty feet away through the hail and the sideways rain. The lights flickered again, but didn't go out.

And then it cleared up, just like that.

I bought a can of coffee, went home, and took a shower because I was soaked through and freezing. There are trees down everywhere, but aside from the occasional siren going off, the world still seems overly quiet in the aftermath of it all.

Oh, hey, and my umbrella was saved from a storm drain at the end of the parking lot. Score!

June 2011

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