Sunday, May 6, 2007

Surviving a Drive Across South Dakota

Trickier than you'd think, as it turns out. But, as a bonus, I've introduced Alison to another bit of being a midwestern resident, tornadoes coming to kill you.

We didn't watch the forecast at all, but as it turns out, all of South Dakota is mired in a deadly, deadly storm system. In fact they still are. We start calling to ask what the deal is when I notice the straight line winds are knocking over road signs in front of us. Cow ponds are whipping up waves 2 ft tall. Its as windy as I've ever seen it.

So, we arrive at Mitchell around 5, eat, and go over to the Corn Palace, cause why not. Oops, closes at 5. As I finish getting some photos of the outside (posted later). It starts storming again. We coordinate with a storm chaser guy we know, and decide that its moving south to north, so we can avoid it if we really get moving straight west, as we wish to anyway.

Almost immediately, its as rainy as I have ever seen it. Car cannot exceed 60 due to water on the road. The traction control just gives up and we hydroplane. Many people have stopped. But, we are dumb, and keep it up. Bouts of rain, wind, etc. The clouds look bad, and the radio starts talking about tornados.

Sure, it was a watch before, but there's always a tornado watch. There have been three lately at home. Not worth worrying about. Now, they are saying, on the ground, and looking at the GPS, they are like 5 miles away.

A word about seeking shelter. Central South Dakota is dead flat. Nothing there. We went 30+ minutes without even seeing an underpass. The radio is giving the usual advice, and we listen:

  1. Seek shelter in a basement, cellar or storm shelter. Its not like there are no convenient buildings, we saw no farmhouses you could get to within the hour from the highway. No structures, at all.

  2. If that is not available, go inside any building, and stay away from large open areas and windows. Again, no buildings at all, thanks.

  3. If you are travelling, and cannot get to shelter in time exit your vehicle and take shelter in a ditch. Which all are filled with water!

In fact, under what conditions does a tornado come out of a thunderstorm when drainages are not filled with water? I want a better backup plan.

So, we drive. We are not trying to outrun the storms, remember. We're perpendicular to the track. And, apparently, we didn't get the worst of it. There's a hail band we missed entirely. Anyway, we see things like this:

Several of them. This one is about 10 miles west of Mitchell (as I recall) and seems to be the one that crossed I-90 at that point. The photo is over our shoulder, so its behind us.

This goes on, but we survive, and after a while, this sort of weather looks pretty good.

Eventually we passed two more cloud fronts, and got a beautiful day, for two hours. Stopped and took a photo or two. It was getting Late, so we didn't try to tour the cool gorge in the background here, or anything else, but we might get back that way tomorrow.

If we die:
Anyway, Alison wanted everyone to know what to do if we do indeed die during the trip. Clearly, insurance and boring stuff like that goes to the secondary benificiary. Proceeds from a sale of the house... presumably go to probate, so I guess I should make up a will, but, the important stuff:

  • Atka should go live with Paige and Sarah.

  • Nancy should be offered to my Mom. But, if she doesn't want a cat, Allan gets to keep her.

  • Windy gets all the gardening stuff and plants not in the ground she wants (plants in the ground are probably part of the house, so lawyers might get mad about them getting removed).

  • Allan can have all my airsoft stuff.

  • Kerry can have all my guns, as allan only likes to shoot at people. He can also have my strobes and all other illumination.

  • The two of them have to have a fight, with nerf bats, over who gets all my nylon gear and the fabric.

1 comment:

Jeannie said...

Oh My Gosh, I can not believe you guys kept on driving!!!! Glad you are ok. I saw the news with all those tornados and thought of you guys before I even new you were TRAVELING IN IT!!!!! I loved the pics too.