Tornado sirens sound like an urgent warning from a giant whale far off in the distance. Full, powerful and foreboding. My Sister and I were born, and in the summers raised, in Iowa. We knew that sound and the hustle to the basement that followed, well.
Welcome to Tornado Alley in Ames, Iowa. A place that sees 51 Tornados on average per year. 68% of which touchdown in the hot, humid summer months.
An Iowa child, sees their share of storms. They gave me nightmares. Now as an adult, they fascinate me. A sentiment my cousin, who I hadn’t seen in 24 years, echoed on my return to Iowa.
In Iowa, summer storms are so big, so vast, they sweep away everything else pulling at your attention. You can smell them coming. Hear their rumble. See their power release in bolts. In the end, you feel them. The air pressure shifts as hot, wet rain drops in heavy waves.
Suddenly you are small and for that brief time, your focus is on one thing, the storm. A mix of fascination and fear. Will it pass quickly or unleash the beast, a Tornado?
If you haven’t seen Iowa yet, imagine a wide open landscape, soft with golden fields. Rows of corn and beans separate red buildings dotting the land. As you drive by, you can catch sight of them like a rotating fan blade, sporadically separating.
On a good day, the skies open up and the clouds come down to earth. Could you touch them if you ran and jumped high enough?
When storms begin to roll in, you see them coming. They slowly build, miles in the distance. The sky darkens near the horizon and someone will say “that doesn’t look good.”
It might take the entire day to reach you, to turn the sky overhead gray. A dark sky is just a warning, the storm is not yet here. The storm is that dark blue army of clouds marching low across the land.
You go about your day. Then all of the sudden, it’s here. It’s overhead, whirling and swirly. The sky suddenly bruises. Dark blue, green and purple appear.
Will there be a Tornado? Will it hail? Where is the next overpass? All it takes is one strong updraft against the wind you know.
When the rain breaks free, it’s hard and fast. In minutes the storm that haunted the day, has passed. The sky begins to break apart and there it is, that bright happy blue, peeking down.
- Know a storm lover? Here’s a one click Tweet to let them know you’re thinking about them!
A recent road trip to Iowa brought these memories all flooding back. While the storms left their impression, so too did the land, happy blue skies and clouds that danced overhead. As did the people. Solid, strong, hard working and kind.
Thank you to my Iowa family. You hosted and made time for us. We weren’t there long, but to me it was a very meaningful day.
I am an Iowa Child.
I’ll be sharing all our favorite stops from last week’s Cross-Country Road Trip including many National Parks. We’d love for you to relive the journey with us here on ALOR, Twitter: @ALORGypsyTip or on Instagram.