Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Tornado Warning

It was a calm and lovely morning. The kids covered our living room in toys as they created imaginative games to play with each other. I drank coffee, worked on writing projects, and played with my baby and toddler. Our neighbor's chicken flew into our backyard, and my kids happily tried to sneak up on it. The weather was perfect for shifting from outside to inside to outside again. 

After lunch, I told the kids that I could watch the street so they could ride bikes. One of my sons cheered, and my kids all dashed outside. I settled on the grass with the baby, and was about to pick up a novel as my preschooler zoomed up and down the quiet street. Suddenly, I heard it: a faint whining sound in the wind. Is that a tornado siren? I wondered. I squinted my eyes, trying to concentrate on that sound. Maybe it was a tornado siren from a nearby area. Or, it could just be someone mowing a lawn. I decided on the latter. 

My kids continued to play as I glanced up and down the unmoving street. And then I heard a mechanical voice ring out over a loudspeaker: 

…This is a tornado warning. Take shelter now…this is a tornado warning. Take shelter now.

 Huh, I’ve never heard a voice accompanying the siren before, I thought. I wonder why—perhaps the tornado is moving especially fast. Should I be concerned?

The voice continued to drone on, naming a tornado in an area just a couple miles away from our home.  

This is a tornado warning. Take shelter now.

“Kids, time to put up the bikes,” I declared as I grabbed the baby.  

We briskly walked to the tornado shelter as I tossed my laptop and water bottle into a backpack. No time to check the weather, we just need to get underground, I resolved. I sent my husband a quick “I love you!” text, my oldest son gripped a flashlight, and we gathered around the shelter. I shoved the door open and began to gently guide the children down into the dark, tomb-like space. I climbed down and laid the baby on the floor. My children gasped, directing my gaze to a large speck dangling midair: A spider—not huge, but definitely not tiny, either—held itself poised on a thick mat of webbing across a corner of the shelter.

“I’m scared,” one of my kids whimpered as we stared at the spider.

“I’m going to grab something,” I announced. Telling them to keep an eye on the Big Scary Spider, I climbed out of the shelter and ran to find a large shoe. I returned to my children, who were huddled by the shelter's steps.

Armed with the shoe in case the spider moved, and feeling a bit like Emily Blunt’s character from A Quiet Place, I sat between my kids and the spider. I do not have a smartphone, and my laptop does not work without being plugged in, so there was no way to know what specific areas were being targeted by the tornado. Therefore, we needed to stay there, in that shelter, with the spider. I called my husband—perhaps he’d have more information.

No answer.

“Daddy didn’t answer, probably because he’s in the tornado shelter at work—phones may not work in there,” I reassured the kids.

I glared at the large spider again as it began crawling back and forth on the web.

“I think that’s an orb weaver spider,” one of my kids decided. “I read about them in a library book.”

“Keep your light trained on it so we can see where it goes,” I warned.

I glanced at my phone to check the time. Just before 1:30. Maybe we’ll just stay here until 2, I thought. Tornadoes usually blow through an area pretty quickly, but I could still hear the faint mechanical sound of the loudspeaker and tornado siren working in harmony. One of the kids suggested that we leave the shelter to get blown away by the tornado, preferring that option to staying near this spider.

“Let’s pray the Rosary!” I suggested, hoping to put my kids’ minds at ease. We began to pray as we watched the spider. A second small spider soon rose from the floor and began climbing up the web.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…

My phone rang. My husband’s voice, casual and calm: Hey, what’s up? 

“ARE YOU OKAY?!?!” I asked, my voice deep and gravelly from losing it earlier in the week. I began to babble on about the tornado siren, the loudspeaker, the warning. 

My husband sounded confused, asking if this was our local siren that I heard. I told him that I thought it could be the siren from the neighboring area, but that when I heard the loudspeaker telling us to get into shelter, I thought it was serious.

Oh, that was a drill. 

“Are you telling me that we’re in the tornado shelter with a big scary spider and it’s ‘just a drill’???”

He reassured me that yes, it was just a drill (a local company, apparently, sent an e-mail about it).

I laughed, relieved and also struck by the humor of the situation. Who ever said that stay-at-home life was boring? I truly never can imagine what type of adventures will come our way each day. 


  1. Cute story! Glad you are all well!

    1. Thanks! Me too-I know that many people in other states faced complete devastation from tornados recently, so I'm grateful that we only had a "fake warning" that we can laugh about.

  2. Haha!! The worst thing ever is when they do tornado drills when the weather is actually bad. It’s so confusing!

  3. I love that your kids preferred to be literally whisked away by a tornado than to stay in close proximity to a spider!

    1. Isn't it great? I wonder if the spider seemed more menacing because they could see it (and were stuck by it), whereas the tornado seemed like a vague, distant idea. It was pretty funny!