(Or better titled, "Oliver and Lily's First Storm-Fleeing Adventure")
Last night started out like a normal evening: help Joel set up the photobooth at Riverfest, go eat at Chipotle with my family, see a wall cloud....?!?!?! WHAT?!?!?! It was true. I saw a wallcloud as we were coming out of Chipotle--rotating and everything. Dad and I were fascinated, and we all headed over to Starbucks. On the way, I heard that parts of Sedgwick and Harvey Counties were under a Tornado Warning. "I knew it!" I thought excitedly. We ordered our drinks and headed out to the patio to keep our eye on the cloud. It was then that we noticed (with our 5 children under the age of 5) that the cloud was getting CLOSER to us, not further, as we had expected. (Everyone knows tornadoes move to the north and east!) But this one was sure moving south and east...and soon enough, the sirens in Wichita confirmed that.
Majorly bummed out that we couldn't spend more time with my bro-and his wife...we left. They all went home to El Dorado, and I, with Joel at Riverfest, decided to call him and pick him up. Soon after turning west onto 96, however, I realized that that wouldn't work. The rotation was MUCH closer to us than I had previously thought...so like any good mother, I turned and ran from the storm...with my two kids in tow. We headed straight east and then south, and stopped at Target to watch the incredible clouds move. Seriously--they were incredible. Probably the best I've ever seen: churning purple, pink, black with all kinds of weird hangy-down parts. I was SURE we'd see a tornado! Once we sat there for a few minutes, I finally got a hold of Joel and found out he was headed for the basement of Century II. Knowing he was safe, we headed south again, hoping to get a better view. We kept moving south and east, staying ahead of the part of the storm--when we got to Andover. We pulled over in a gas station to watch...when I noticed some conspicuous rotation above us...time to move again! I pulled onto the road and headed south just as the sirens were blaring. Heading to Rose Hill...I heard on the radio that there were tornado warnings north of us (home), east of us, (my parents home), and to the west of us (where Joel was). Our only choice? Keep heading south! I got some fun pictures on my phone of clouds while we parked in Rose Hill, (but these don't begin to do it justice) and then we headed south again.
The only time I really got freaked out was when, south of Rose Hill, we were traveling down a road and ahead I saw dust being picked up and swirled around. Although I KNEW the warnings were not for that area--it looked freaky enough to warrant a turn back east. Sure enough, no sooner had I turned than a deer ran out in front of us! Yikes!!! We finally got back onto a road (and my dad said that those winds were likely the gusts blowing back out of the storm) and headed to Udall where we stopped for a bathroom. By this time, we heard the warnings were canceled. We were free to start heading back to Wichita--where we were hearing of massive rain and hail! Trying to avoid the hail, I drove west, then caught the turnpike north into the city. The rain was torrential, but thankfully- no hail! And we reached Joel just two hours after our ordeal began. We were all safe and sound and together at last. Joel finally asked, "Why didn't you just stay put at Starbucks?"
It hadn't even crossed my mind.
16 hours ago