March 30, 2007

"I know I need a small vacation but it don't look like rain..."

Oh, but it do look like rain here in Wichita, where I'm finally on line. It's almost 700 miles from Madison to Wichita, the obvious place to stop on this drive to Austin. And as I reached the final 100 miles, just past Kansas City, crazy rain started, the kind that's such solid water that the windshield wipers make no difference and you struggle just to see the painted lines.

Some cars are pulled over on the shoulder, but I keep going, creeping along at 30 miles an hour, listening to a BBC radio program about lungfish. I start thinking: Kansas!

I have a feeling I am in Kansas. Tornados! How will I know where they are in the dark? If one hits and I'm thrown around in the car, will the airbags save me? I've heard you're supposed to get out of your car and cower somewhere. Where? What's to stop the tornado from picking up the car and slamming it down right on top of me? I'll take my chances driving, slowly, following the red lights on the truck in front of me, keeping my distance, thinking about ten car pile ups, hoping to drive to the end of this crazy rain.

And I'm here now, at a hotel nice enough to have room service until midnight. Ah, there's the knock on the door. A Caesar salad. A glass of wine....

UPDATE: Wine drunk, I Googled for some advice about how to survive a tornado while driving and hit upon this amusing information: "If a tornado seems to be standing still then it is either travelling away from you or heading right for you." All right, then!

33 comments:

Internet Ronin said...

Relax. Enjoy. Have a nice evening.

(The weather on the way sounded dreadful. Glad you made it without incident.)

paul a'barge said...

omg, you're coming to Austin?

Althouse! We could have bought you a tequila!!

Ann Althouse said...

It's not to late to set up a reader-blogger meetup in Austin. I'll be there all week.

Ann Althouse said...

I mean not too late.

Johnny Nucleo said...

There be nothing so pleasant as inn and tavern, and food and wine in the dark of the night. It's the stuff of civilized life.

Ah, but for me, a joint of mutton and a mug of mead.

hdhouse said...

ahhh fair Wichita...spent a week there one night. I saw where the weather was finally pushing east so 35 will be a better ride for you tomorrow. Eyes to the skys. Safe trip. (ps..watch for scorpions...and they are ALWAYS in pairs)

boston70 said...

Ann,
Interesting about your drive.

I just spoke with my parents tonight who are driving back to Madison from Arizona.

They are currently staying somewhere outside of Oklahoma City. They told me the same thing about the rain and the tornadoes around there. They ended up pulling over a couple of times.

Be careful, based off what my folks told me, the rain is continuing south of where you are now and is supposed to continue a couple of days.

What's Wichita like? Isn't that where Fred Phelps is from?

boston70 said...

When I posted I just received this message:

"Your comment has been posted to this blog, but we were unable to send a notification email to the blog’s owner. We apologize for this error."

You so you are aware.

Fox said...

Althouse, what are you coming to Austin for?? Are you appearing somewhere?

Let us Althousian Austinites know if you need any direction or suggestion while you are here.

Welcome!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I'll be there all week.

Are you doing stand-up now?

Ann Althouse said...

I'm just visiting my son. No appearances. I might be up for a reader-blogger meetup if there are enough people in austin.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Don't hit any "Rhinestone Cowboys" on your way to "Galveston," ok?

if there are enough people in austin.

The Blogress shows false humility.

rightwingprof said...

Don't you get tornadoes in Wisconsin?

It's tornado season. You should tune the radio to local channels. If there is a tornado warning or watch, you'll hear about it on the radio.

When you're in town, your first clue is sirens.

Meade said...

Wichita Lineman

Did you know Glen Campbell was a full member of the Beach Boys in 1964 and 1965?

Zarathustra said...

I grew up near Wichita. I always found the advice regarding what to do when traveling in a car and spotting a tornado amusing. The automated weather alert voice would intone that one should seek cover in a low lying area, such as a ditch alongside the road. Of course, as you noticed, the rain is coming down in torrents, and the ditches are full of water. Although I never I had to make the decision, somehow I never felt that I would want to dive into a ditch full of water and risk drowning while a tornado roared over my head. Safe travels

Jeff said...

Ah, I love it when people rag on Wichita, clearly knowing nothing about it. Those of us who live here know the best place to go if your in a car is under a bridge right up under the above roadway. Worse place to be is in Oklahoma during a rainstorm at night. Road never goes under a bridge, and you can't see them coming. You have to listen to the radio and look for flashes where the tornado carves a path thru the electrical poles. I missed a big tornado that crossed 35 in OKC by less than a mile a couple of years ago like that.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not "ragging on Wichita." I'm just saying it was a terrible rainstorm -- with lightning -- and my first association with Kansas -- going back to childhood -- is tornadoes.

And we do have tornadoes in Wisconsin. I have a number of blog posts about how I responded to an alert.

Once I was driving up Route 90 toward Madison and saw funnel clouds. All I could think of to do was keep driving and keep an eye on them.

hdhouse said...

tornados or tornadoes or tornadi.

where is dan quayle when we need him.

Paco Wové said...

"Those of us who live here know the best place to go if your in a car is under a bridge right up under the above roadway."

I've heard that a lot, but I notice that the Feds don't agree:

FEMA says:
Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

The National Weather Service dislikes the idea so much they've got a special web page just to rail against it.

The NWS also dislikes people staying in their cars:
ABANDON THEM [cars, mobile homes] IMMEDIATELY!! Most deaths occur in cars and mobile homes.

As does the CDC:
The least desirable place to be during a tornado is in a motor vehicle.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Paco. I wonder if the deaths in cars occur when people don't have seat belts and air bags (as is always the case with a mobile home).

Pogo said...

"Wichita Lineman" is a beautiful and sad song. There's a very nice live version by Webb himself, made somewhat more plaintive by Webb's more pedestrian voice.

But even better is the title song on the haunting nearly-ambient work from 1981 by Pat Metheny, As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls. It's pure and soothing. Rolling Stone described it thus: "With percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, they have created a fantastic, ambitious piece of music that bridges the gap between contemporary jazz and the New Music of such composers as Steve Reich. ".

Meade said...

Thanks Pogo. Great to hear Webb doing his own song live.

from wikipedia:
Campbell was greatly in demand as a session musician in the 1960s. He is heard on some of the largest-selling records of the era by such artists as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Merle Haggard, The Monkees, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Association, Jan & Dean and The Mamas & the Papas.
He was a full-fledged member of The Beach Boys, filling in for an ailing Brian Wilson on tour in 1964 and 1965 and he also played on the Pet Sounds album.
Other classics featuring his outstanding guitar playing include: "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers and "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees.

Jim said...

Just a few years ago a large tornado hit a large grocery store here in Cedar Park, Texas (just outside of Austin).

It scattered the cars in the parking lot like a child scatters blocks. Dozens of cars were picked up and thrown hundreds of yards.

I don't know the best place to be in a tornado, but based on my observation of that incident a car is the worse place.

AJ Lynch said...

I flew into KC once, was driving to my hotel and passed the Royals stadium when they were in the late innings of a game. I had never been there and love baseball so I stopped to catch a few innings- just walked in without buying a ticket. It started to rain so hard I swear the rain was coming down horizontally. The game was suspended and the fans retreated under cover. They put an NBA final game up on the big screen and I remember Jordan and the Bulls were beating some other team.

AllenS said...

If the ditch is such a good idea, why not drive the car into it. If a tornado is able to pick up your car, it seems that it wouldn't have any trouble picking a person up.

Maxine Weiss said...

In an Italian mother-son relationship, the sons are so devoted to Mama, that they (sons) are the ones to travel to the ends of the earth to see her.

Italian sons never leave their mothers, and never make their mothers drive through treacherous weather.

Guess Althouse is not Italian, huh?

The Jewish Mother too, they keep their sons close at hand.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

If it were me, I would have met in the middle...at Disney World in Florida.

Orlando is the midpoint, isn't it?

It is for me.

Peace, Maxine

Christy said...

hdhouse, however they are spelled I'll take mine medium rare with Bernaise sauce.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Christy: Don't get saucy with me, Bernaise!

Atticus said...

The danger in tornados is from flying debris--I have seen crazy stuff like straw driven into trees, uprooted trees driven into buildings. A car is all windows, with no protection against flying debris. I'm not comfortable with the idea of lying flat in a ditch where a car could be dropped on me, but staying in the car is defintely not safer.

I tried unsuccessfully to find something to verify this, but I had heard that Wichita Lineman is not about Wichita KS. Fabulous song.

Ricardo said...

"... if there are enough people in Austin."

Actually, there are getting to be far too many people in Austin. But you, personally, are very welcome.

mikeyes said...

FEMA may not like getting under a bridge (you abandon the car and get in that little space at the top of the cement where it meets the road, there is usually a small cave like area there) but during the killer tornado that hit Wichita in April 1991, a news crew was saved by doing just that as the tornado pass directly overhead. While the cameraman recorded it, I might add.

As an aside, that tornado was huge and the crew was out on the main highway chasing it when the tables were turned. In the first airing of the undedited film you can hear one of the crew yelling "Let's get the f--k out of hear!" That was edited out of the later showings, but everyone who saw the film still thought the same thing anyway.

mikeyes said...

OK, I take it back, Look at this report, apparently the KS incident was a lucky fluke: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/papers/overpass.html

and her are the videos:http://www.tornadochaser.com/2000history.htm