Weather wasn't the planned topic for tonight's post but when a quick dash through Facebook at 9:30pm tonight turned up a post warning friends in El Dorado that a large tornado was headed their way put weather at the forefront of my thoughts. There have been numerous news stories the last two days about the strong possibilities for severe weather this weekend so it wasn't a surprise, and when Wayne talked with his dad just an hour or so earlier, they discussed the need to keep up with the tornadoes all around the area. But one on the ground headed toward El Dorado...that will get our attention every day.
It was amazing how much information I could get even though we're a thousand miles away. The Weather Channel had devoted its coverage entirely to the storm just moving into Wichita so we heard almost a play-by-play of its progress. It was on the ground in Haysville where we'd stopped for a cache on our last trip home. It was a virtual cache, meaning there wasn't a log to sign; you took a photo and uploaded it to receive credit for the cache. The photo...metal debris twisted around and embed in a tree overhead, left by a previous twister traveling through the city. Then on to McConnell AFB...towards Benton and Towanda...and eventually to El Dorado. Names and places I know so well.
My search for more information took me to one of the local television stations where I could watch live streaming video from their team of storm chasers. Darkness, of course, made it impossible to see much of anything other than headlights reflecting on wet highways but it was still cool technology.
The storms have passed the areas we call home, moving on to threaten other people and communities. Unfortunately, there are more behind them so no one can let their guard down yet. And since the news outlets aren't mentioning significant damage, I'm hoping it isn't severe.
One thing that has stood out in all of this is how sophisticated storm predicting has become and the vast array of tools at the hands of experts that make it so. Years (and years) ago we stood at the back of our house as a tornado cut across the corner of El Dorado. We knew it was a tornado because we could see it, not because we'd been warned in any way. Now they know a day or more in advance that significant tornado activity is not only likely but probable, and they can tell where in the storm system the tornadoes are likely to be at the moment and where they will be fifteen or thirty minutes later. It's bound to save lives.
To those of you in the storms' paths as they move eastward tomorrow...be safe.