Sunday, April 25, 2010

April Showers Bring May Flowers!...or not!

How many times have you heard that saying..."April showers bring May flowers." Let's see, last Sunday it was a lovely warm day by the mountains. Today, it is showering but more so in a snowy fashion. Yesterday, the squalls kept coming and going...big fluffy flakes that went right into the ground. April can bring horrible snow storms here by the Rockies or lovely days.

...many years ago when I lived in northern Illinois in the little town of Lake Zurich on April 21, 1967 (my sweet Mom's birthday)...there came some very horrendous weather. The day started out as most April days did it was warm and humid. (The winter of 1966 and early 1967 had been a real doozy! Record snowfalls, sleet/ice storms resulting in no power for a few weeks -- a very bad winter season.) Then along came April 21st as I was saying -- I was working in Barrington at the time, in the afternoon I looked out the window of the office and could see lots of little tornadoes off in the distance jumping up and down across the farm fields. They would hit and debris would scatter then pick up again!

...Everyone was very concerned about the tornadoes. I left work and began my drive home to Lake Zurich somewhere around 4:30 pm. As I was driving down US Highway 12 a short distance from our housing development, I noticed this huge dark black/gray/green mass to the north -- it looked like an upside down top hat and it was moving along -- not in too much of a hurry, but it was moving as a huge mass of darkness. I was headed in the same direction and would have met this dark mass if it had not been for the fact that I remembered my Mother's birthday cake was uptown in Lake Zurich in the bakery. A banana whip cream cake -- one of the best ever! So I turned around and headed to our little town of Lake Zurich, as I came out of the bakery, sirens were going off -- such a sound, rescue vehicles sped by. They were all headed down Rand Road exactly where I was going. What on earth was going on.

I drove to our road into the housing development, Zurich Manor, I did not get far -- I was stopped by deputies -- I explained that I just lived right over there -- right over the hill and my Mom was home alone and I had to get to her. No pleading helped -- I was instructed to go back to Lake Zurich, go to the high school, prove who I was and where I lived and to get a "pass" so I could go into our housing area. I did this, it seemed to take forever to get the "pass".

I finally was able to get to our home -- all was okay, Mom was fine, our home was intact. But just a few blocks away an F-4 tornado had devastated homes, a school and so much more. The tornado was later reported to be 9 miles long and 150 yards wide. It didn't look like a tornado -- it was that awful black mass that I had seen moving ever so steadily into the Manor. There had been 10 rotating super cells in the area that day. Causing horrendous damage to many areas of Illinois and deaths.

If you Google "1967 Lake Zurich Tornado" you can get all the information on that one and the other areas that were hit that day. The clocks had stopped in the buildings at 5:03 pm that day.

I asked my Mom what she heard and felt. She said it was like a group of low flying jets roaring down on her and the neighborhood. She felt this sensation of a vacuum inside the house, like the air had been sucked out and then a big sigh! Then she heard the sirens.

I did not know how much this affected me until many years later as my husband and I were driving through Nebraska. As we were driving, the sky became this gray/green color -- everywhere -- it engulfed us -- I said we are driving into a tornado. No, no said my husband it is only dust flying around from the farm fields. "Dust, my arsh," said I. This is a tornado!

We were now totally inside of the gray/green mass. I kept driving hoping to get out of it soon. We then came out and there was sunshine and rain...and a small town ripped apart by the tornado. People standing around in shock...curtains flying wildly out of windows from walls that did not seem to have anything holding them up. I began to weep, really weep.

From that day on I could not watch a tornado being reported on TV without sobbing. This still effects me to this day.

April was always such a renewing month for me as a young person. It also was my Mom's birthday, April 21st -- My Dad's birthday, April 25th and their wedding anniversary on Dad's birthday -- April 25th.

I have lived here in northern Montana by the Canadian border by Glacier National Park for going on 40 years. I traded the tornadoes for terrorizing winds that roar out of the mountains and rip across the valleys and farm fields. The winds, at first, really terrorized me. We, at first, lived in a very old house. The winds would roar down, slam into the house and windows and then suck back to the mountains only to come back again and again. In the old house I would duct tape the windows because I was afraid they would be taken back to the mountains with the wind. I mean to tell you, I became physically sick when the winds blew like this! Hail is a frequent visitor to our valley. In 1978 a horrific hail storm in August hit our area with hail stones starting very small and growing to the size of big chunks of ice. All the windows in the north side of our little old house were crashed out -- piles of hail were inside piled up high against the wall with the shattered window glass. I couldn't find one of our small sons to get him into a bedroom in the south of the house. I was yelling for him -- I could hear this tiny little voice -- crying, saying "Mom, I am under the bed"...he was already in one of the bedrooms.

My husband had been outside with the milk cows -- he had gone under a hay wagon for protection -- which gave him little.

Weather can be so very beautiful and the next minute be so very destructive. Well, now I must think of happier times and days. What brought all this on were the reports of tornadoes hitting communities across the US today on the Weather Station.

I still weep for all the lost lives and total loss of homes, animals etc.

I hope where ever you are you are safe!


  1. I have never been in a tornado and I am so afraid of them....

    Wind though, I love wind. Odd I know.

    Weather is amazing and terrifying all at once.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post because I feel I get to know a little more of you through these experiences. Thank you!
    I always wanted to see a tornado when I lived in Missouri; however, after reading this I am glad I did not. Like you, I would not like to see the destruction.