It was a typical Friday here – until a little after 3pm. I heard the EAS go off on my cell phone for only the second time since I have owned it (the first being throughout Hurricane Irma last year), but this caught my attention instantaneously. My area was under a Tornado Warning.
Even with some strong summertime thunderstorms, we’re lucky to get one such warning a year – although five years ago during a summer storm in June 2013, our neighboorhood had a microburst with no warning. I was aware a front was passing through the Tampa Bay area – I just wasn’t expecting it to be this strong. I turned on the local TV stations, who were already on the air tracking the front.
One of my neighbors was gathering up loose objects from their yard – I counseled the neighbor to cease immediately. Their intentions were good, I suppose – but with tornadoes, every second does count. Better things go flying than the people themselves, right? I knew the front was moving very quickly through the area, and the moments being used up might wind up being moments they didn’t have, so I saw and said something.
During the warning, I get a call from Pinellas County emergency management – warning as of the tornado alert. I did withstand the temptation to pick up the phone and angrily say, “I KNOW!!!” I get that not everyone has a cell phone and could get the EAS signal, but at the same time – they could be calling someone who needs to stay hunkered down, which seems to me as being counterproductive.
The tornado threat passed without damage where I live, though Seminole, a town directly west of here, had a touch down that knocked down trees on the busier roadways and caused a roof of a condo to collapse. Had the tornado stayed on the ground longer, it might have been a close call for us – lucky, it wasn’t.