- Ada, Oklahoma

May 31, 2014

The storm warning ‘buzz’ is no more

Lone Beasley Publisher
The Ada News

Ada — Though it wouldn’t be true for Moore, Okla. or Joplin, Mo. residents, it is only a small exaggeration to say the preparedness kits for many others residing in tornado alley include folding lawn chairs. How else is one expected to comfortably gather with neighbors to swap exciting killer storm stories while watching the skies for the next installment to arrive? 

Those living in Moore and Joplin are likely to be significantly less cavalier about them since their areas have recently served as ground zero for devastating twisters — the kind powerful enough to suck blades of grass out of the ground after razing all structures within a concentrated swath of real estate. 

Personal experiences like that tend to temper one’s sense of humor about such things. But many of those who haven’t experienced one in a while, or ever, get a buzz knowing conditions are ripe for potential meteorological mayhem. It gets blood and adrenaline pumping. 

Residents in hurricane country are essentially the same way and today marks the beginning of that three-month season.  The differences between the two kinds of storms are the lead time one tends to get and the total area affected are both greater for hurricanes. Too, they have the nasty habit of producing their own tornados.

My childhood home was located next to the Mississippi River Bridge in New Orleans. All sorts of fun things occasionally came hurling off of it even on crystal clear days. Once a car tire plummeted down from its 200-foot height, hit the ground and bounced two-thirds of the way back up again, and so on till it finally found its resting place on terra firma. 

Another not so comical projectile was a car with two people inside. It didn’t bounce at all. 

Hurricane Betsy came calling one night with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour and gusts of, if memory serves, 165. The potent sound of wind that strong makes an impression. It was only trumped by the additional sound of objects picked up along the way that pummeled the walls of our house for hours on end. 

The granddaddy sound of them all was the roar overhead that told us some even greater threat was making itself known. My mother’s frightened question, “What is that?” was answered by my father attempting humor, who responded casually, “It’s a freight train going over the bridge.” 


The next morning we surveyed the damage that appeared to me as if a giant taller than the bridge had stomped through the place. Telephone poles were at 45 degree angles if not fully prostrated on the ground. Trees were down all over. Roofs of some homes were gone. Residents across the river suffered extensive flood damage. 

The “freight train” that sounded as though it came off the bridge was, of course, a tornado that destroyed a neighborhood gym. 

This was a personal experience that forever siphoned the buzz of excited anticipation off all future hurricane warnings. 


(Contact Lone’ Beasley at