May 21, 2013
Heading back in the Cincinnati via San Antonio, I flew just west of Oklahoma at roughly the same time the Moore F5 tornado dropped. I stepped off the plane in Chicago to what would normally be the white noise of CNN's more pronounced. Tornados had dropped in Oklahoma the night before, so I assumed that was the coverage.
I had no idea.
The splintered wood and bent beams, beer can crushed cars and would-be buildings now wiped clear of the foundation was a new dark disaster. I watched with other passengers, jaws agape, at the place that was once home, school, business ... community. I watched parents reunite with their children and wondered about the children who were inevitably missing.
My adopted father had been a weather man in the Navy before somehow working a deal to join the Air Force. My eyes were on the skies growing up. Learning how to spot a shelf cloud, what rotation was and knowing when the clouds were essentially about to scream!
Where we lived was flat and the comfort was knowing you could always see what was coming at you. We always saw what was coming if our eyes were up.
One thing my adopted father said repeatedly, "If a tornado drops, don't try to out run it. Don't hunker under a bridge. Get under ground or the lowest ditch."
But we didn't talk about F5 tornados much. Namely because it was an unspoken understanding of the hell on earth they would rage. When I asked about those, he'd just say pray.
When I saw the devestation in Moore, OK I was pretty sure that was the imprint of an F5. From the photos my adopted father had shown me and the discussion we had. And when I touched down in Cincinnati, Ohio, I looked up at the sky. The copper hue spilling on the soft almost Tim Burton clouds. It was warm, not hot. It was peaceful.
I felt a pang. Knowing what would be next. Next in Moore, Oklahoma. A place I've driven through on the way to somewhere else. Now it's a part of my story.