Yesterday evening, I was preparing to feed our two rescue dogs their dinner when my daughter called as she was driving home from her work as a therapist intern. As we chatted, she told me about the slushy snow she was driving through, which had been falling all day and the night before. Then, right after she arrived at her home, she brought up the Weather Channel app on her phone and told me what their forecast was for the coming week.
Then I logged onto the weather.com, Weather Channel website on my tablet, so I could tell her how our forecast here in New Mexico compared with her forecast in Washington state.
But when the weather channel site opened, I did not see the forecast. Instead, I saw a big red Tornado Warning, with the advise to Seek Shelter Immediately!
Whaaaat? The tornado warning siren in our town hadn’t gone off. And, although it was raining lightly and I had heard a couple of claps of thunder, the wind was fairly calm.
I clicked on the warning statement for more information. It said that a rotating mass could be seen on radar in this area. Great. But the dogs were eating their dinner. And the warning siren hadn’t gone off. And the weather outside seemed fairly calm, except for the light rain…
I decided to check out weather.gov and Accuweather. They both stated that this area was under a tornado watch, not a warning. So, two out of three… I decided to let the dogs finish eating. Luckily they are fast eaters.
With my daughter still on the phone, I told her what I had seen on the weather channel site, versus the other two sites. She was concerned. “How strong is your house?” she asked. “Is there somewhere safe you can go?”
I explained that our new (to us) home is built of very thick, solid bricks. “When the cable was installed recently, it took the guy forever to drill through the brick on the back side of our house. So it isn’t just a facade, it is solid,” I told her.
She seemed relieved to hear that. So I did not tell her about pictures I have seen of bricks flying around like deadly missiles from a direct hit by an extremely powerful twister!
Right after the dogs finished eating, the tornado warning siren went off. I quickly herded my two panicked dogs into the bathroom with the help of their favorite treat, shut the door, and sat down on the floor with a trembling 20 pound poodle on my lap and a shaky 70 pound mystery mix dog trying to find a way to crawl through the crack under the door.
The siren blew for a long time. My husband wasn’t home, as he’d had two medical appointments at the VA Medical Clinic in a nearby city that morning, plus his monthly veterans’ fly fishermen fly-tying group at the VFW that evening.
I was still talking to my daughter, assuring her that I was okay, when the call dropped. Then I sent a text to my husband and another text to his daughter, who lives 60 miles to the south of us, to let them know what was happening.
I was wondering if it might be safe to leave the bathroom, when an Emergency Alert text came through on my phone. “Imminent extreme alert,” it said, in red, at the top of the text. “Tornado Warning in this area til 8:15 PM MDT. Take shelter now.”
All told, the dogs and I spent about 40 minutes on the floor of the bathroom. I kept wishing I had brought my tablet in with me, or a charger — my old android phone’s battery went down to 13% while I was in there. Or even better, I wished I had grabbed something to eat. The dogs were fed, but I wasn’t!
Here’s the good news: we did not have any hail, the wind never sounded very bad, no one was hurt and nothing was damaged here, as far as I am aware. Also, at no point did I feel like the gravity had been sucked up out of the atmosphere, the way I did on October 21, 2015, the last time that I sheltered in place during a tornado warning. (I googled it later and discovered that the sudden sensation of having almost no gravity is caused by a rapid, extreme loss of barometric pressure — which can happen when a funnel cloud is directly above you! Our roof was destroyed in that storm, and so was my car.)
I am super thankful we made it through last night’s tornado warning without any injuries. And I am especially thankful that I remained perfectly calm during the entire time I sat in the safest room in our house, cuddling our dogs and praying for God to protect everyone from the storm. I did not feel panicky or afraid, not even the least little bit!
For me, the biggest difference between last night and the tornado-warned storm that I experienced in October 2015, was that I did not experience any feelings of panic or anxiety. None! And I believe this is largely due to the neurofeedback treatments I had in 2017, which has greatly alleviated my PTSD symptoms. I simply do not feel anxiety, fear, and panic like I used to. Not even with every kind of “Imminent Extreme Alert” tornado warning going off!
Right now, while I am writing this, depending on which online weather site I check, we have sustained winds of either 45, 50, or 55 mph, and wind gusts of either 70, or over 80 mph. The upper end of that is higher than hurricane force. And tonight, we are supposed to get a snow storm.
I don’t like this nasty weather. The wind sounds really horrible. It has been blowing like this all day. From the sounds of it, there is probably some kind of damage happening around our property right now. And this wind isn’t expected to die down until late tonight. Just in time for the snow, I guess.
But even with all of this stress going on, I feel perfectly calm right now. Which for me, with my long history of severe PTSD, is nothing short of amazing.
I still haven’t missed a single day of exercising, or of writing in my memoir, since I started my “mini habits” goals back in September 2018. I have had surgery under general anesthesia, two bouts of the flu, my husband had the flu, a doctor told me I had cancer (which turned out to be wrong), and through all of these things and more, I have not missed my daily mini habit goals one single time, in over six months.
So, yaay for neurofeedback and yaay for Stephen Guise and his wonderful book, Mini Habits!
Update Added 14 March 2019: Yesterday, after I posted this, the bomb cyclone winds blew a big chunk of the roof off the building where my stepdaughter works, while she was in the building. She wasn’t allowed to go home even then, because she works at a special ops military base and her job is mission essential. But she is okay!
The wind has finally calmed down here. It’s eerily quiet, after so many hours of noise. I saw on the news that a big portion of the USA is being affected by this storm. I’m praying that everybody stays safe!
UPDATE APRIL 5, 2019: Here’s a link to a great page that the people with the National Weather Service put together about the Bomb Cyclone and Tornado events we had here in New Mexico last month: