Yesterday was a faith builder for me. You see, one of my fears living in an RV is the threat of severe storms here in Tioga. We have had them during these six months of my stay and at first, in the winter my only anxiety was brought on by strong winds which brought with them the snow and ice.
I have a dreadful, near phobia of wind. Strong wind.
This, I think goes back to my experience in the Philippines where my father was stationed while in the Air Force. We endured the effects of two hurricanes (cyclones in the Pacific) that caused a lot of damage. But I had a heart stopping fear of the wind. The unceasing sound of nonstop roaring and the pounding of the house by this wind and what it carried assailed me. I remember standing in my bedroom trying to stop the deluge of rain from pouring though the windows. The howling and screeching was magnified at the sight of the roof lifting six inches from the wall and slamming down again, and the rain would soak me and my things with each gale.
It was dreadful for a 14 year old girl.
I have since realized that when the wind blows, more than twenty miles per hour I am fearful and feel extremely unsafe. I cannot relax or sleep. I must wait it out because otherwise I am not prepared for the worst. I know this seems extreme, but this fear is extreme. I would almost call it a handicap. It makes me emotional and in some situations unreasonable.
It is worse when I am alone.
In the spring we had a close call with a storm that skirted us and moved south. It produced a tornado that did great destruction to an RV park near Watford City, ND. Chuck and I watched it's progress as it crossed us, building as it went. I told him at one point it looked very unstable. We were listening to the weather radio and watching weather apps to track it's path. It was then that I realized how precarious our situation would be should a storm like this one hit us directly. All I could think was how to get the important things to safety. After that storm Chuck and I devised an evacuation plan. His calmness and reason helped me. But by far the greatest help was my faith in God protecting us.
I have relied on that belief and those prayers dozens of times. I cannot say how many times I would see a severe storm aimed right for us and I would call out to God for his protection-even that he would change the storm's direction and severity. I have been stunned to watch this very thing happen. Without explanation a storm would move north or south, or it would lose it's powerful hail and wind strength. My prayers have always included those who might be affected by such events.
But Chuck has been with me, by my side. An earlier blog refers to one occasion that happened when he wasn't here, but my sister Mary spent the better part of an hour on the phone keeping me from panicking during one of these events. As I prayed and spoke to her the storm broke apart and moved completely away, leaving a nice refreshing rain in it's wake.
It was around noon and I had the radio on listening to classical music and writing my blog, when the station gave a warning that our area was to experience a series of severe thunderstorm with the possibility of large hail, heavy rain and damaging wind with the chance of isolated tornados. My thoughts went wild with the idea of this. It was early and I didn't see any sign of a storm so I waited, trying to be busy. Around two in the afternoon I was startled when the front door slammed shut with a strong wind gust. I checked it to make sure nothing had broken and sat back down at the computer. I looked out the west window across from me and saw that there was a large area of clouds due west. They were fairly dark so I figured they would be on the radar. I finished the blog, which was nearly completed and opened my weather app.
There it was! It was a massive storm covering western North Dakota and eastern Montana. It displayed rotating thunderstorms and in the middle the white tell-tail sign of hail. This one was not going to miss me! That was when the first prayer went up. Now, I could not stop my storm tracking. The wind was growing, the trailer buffeted in the gusts. Not as bad as some of the winter gusts but the storm was still 30-40 miles away. I decided to distract myself somehow. I opened the weather apps on my phone and opened Netflix on my computer. I have been following this one murder mystery program so I started watching it. I sat there with the window coverings open so I could follow the advancing storm visually and as well as on the apps. More prayers, rather pleading at this time. "Make it go north, make it drop all that hail in the vast prairie to the west, don't let the winds be more than thirty miles per hour, help me be calm and clear, don't let hit Chuck while he is working outside." On and on it went. If someone had seen me they would have thought that crazy woman is yelling at herself. It kept building and I could see the horizontal clouds sweeping across the front of the storm. It was tall and getting darker by the minute.
Chuck sent me a text saying he saw the radar and it looked suspicious. I replied that I was tracking it and could see it. More prayers. It was still building and to the north the clouds looked dark green. More prayers.
Then I noticed the direction of the rotating area had changed slightly from due east to north east. Could it miss me? Then more wind, but no rain or hail. It was close, probably ten miles, but the sky overhead was solid dark grey clouds. More praying. "If it is coming this way could it just skirt us?" The hail will be in the middle of this mess and that might keep me out of it. By this time I had watched an entire season one and was starting on season two. The radar said there were more storms behind, though not at big but they were rotating as well. I remembered once hearing a meteorologist (I think it was Jim Cantore) say that many of these storms rotate but they don't always produce tornado's just a lot of downdrafts and microbursts.
Chuck sent another text asking how it was going. I told him it was over me but only the edge of it. He said it was windy and raining there but passing quickly. I told him I was not going to be able to sleep and he said I could stay up with him. He is so good. At that point heavy rain started to fall. It was pounding making it hard to hear the program. I got up. I had to look to see if there was hail. I opened the front door slightly and in the porch light I could see it was just rain, heavy Arizona monsoon storm rain. This works for me. It rained for nearly an hour. Cooper and I just sat, listening to the rain and the program. Watching the weather app on the phone. In the thick darkness out side the lightning was ferocious, the thunder very close at times.
Then it stopped.
I waited a few more minutes and after a couple of small showers of short duration it stopped. I waited again and then I opened the front door-I saw stars and the moon!! It was past me and the other storms behind it had either broke up or veered south. More prayers this time of thankfulness and praise.
Chuck sent a text that they shut down due to lightning but it was past them now and things were up and running. Thank you God.
I went to sleep.