What’s it like to live through a tornado?

Editor’s Note: While we read in the news about parts of Florida experiencing tornadoes, it seemed to be an appropriate time to share one student’s experience living through such a storm.  

By Braydon Cole

When I was in fifth grade my siblings and I moved to Montana for a year to visit my father, who had recently met his girlfriend, Casey. On one particularly warm summer day, my siblings and I were inside with my dad and Casey, who had just finished making some fresh sun tea. We were all talking and enjoying the weather when, quite suddenly, a small cold front started to pass through the city. I remember my dad looking out our windows at the sky. My dad loves the weather and can always tell when the weather was going to change; this time, however, he looked a little concerned with how things were looking. I remember looking up at the sky and seeing that it had a green tint to it, no longer the usual light blue color.

My dad opened the door and stepped outside. It was eerily quiet, and not a single sound could be heard. Right across from the little pond near our neighborhood the clouds started to collide and started to swirl around each other. Then, all of a sudden, a funnel appeared and a tornado reached down and touched ground on the other side of the pond.

My dad rushed inside and told my siblings and me to run into his bathroom and crawl in his tub. We frantically ran into the bathroom and jumped into the bathtub; my dad ripped his mattress off of his bed and threw it over us and told us not to move at all until he told us we could. I remember my little siblings crying from fear about what was going on. I sat there motionless, my heart pounding. I remember being terrified, as I had never experienced a tornado or any potentially dangerous weather.

Outside, the tornado grew stronger and was advancing towards the heart of the city. At that point my dad came in and grabbed us out of the bathtub and told us to get our shoes on. We left the house and started to drive away from the tornado to a different area. My dad listened to the radio, checking any form of information he could get regarding the tornado. In town the tornado struck the stadium and collapsed a few power lines and houses. After a little while it died down, leaving a path of destruction. We returned home later that night; I was shook up from all of the panic that we just experienced but on the bright side, we were all safe.

That next morning I remember waking up and driving into town with my dad to see the damage. Debris was everywhere and you could easily spot the damage to the buildings the tornado caused. It was crazy seeing all of the destruction a single, small tornado could cause. It had been 50 years since Billings had experienced a tornado before that one.

Experiencing a tornado is fascinating but terrifying at the same time; certainly, it is one of my most memorable childhood experiences.

Photo credit: Kalvesta, KS Tornado by Lauren Ayres on Flickr