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Texas Tornado Season is Here

"My Little Texas Tornado, blowing me away again

I swore it wouldn't happen again, but I looked at you and then

I'm like a tumbleweed in a wild west Texas wind

You're blowing me away again"

- Tracy Lawrence, "Texas Tornado"

Most people are familiar with the term "spring cleaning." It means now that the weather is getting nice from a long winter, it's time to clean and organize the house so that you can spend as much time enjoying the outdoors. We go through all our crap, pack away the winter clothes and blankets, and open windows to get the fresh, Spring breeze to air out our homes. We do that here in Texas as well, but we also do something else. We clean, organize and then stock our closets with pillows, blankets, water, snacks, and weather radios because down here, it's Texas Tornado Season!

Why do we do this? This is why:

In 2019, this happened 55 miles east of my home.

It is important to note that tornados are not exclusive to Texas. They happen all over the country, especially in the South and the Great Plains. Because of this, I would recommend that if you have a chance of your area being hit by a tornado, even if it is slim, you prepare just in case.

Storm Celler circa 1930s

Some people are lucky. My great-grandmother had a storm cellar. It was an in-ground concrete room that was buried in her backyard. Outwardly, it looked like a hill with two metal pipes coming out of the ground. On one side was a heavy door, tilted at about 20 degrees or so, that led down the steps into the cellar. As a kid, it was the coolest thing ever to explore. I can still after all these years hear my Mammy yelling at my brother and me to "stop dropping rocks down the vent."

Today, storm cellars have a much nicer look thanks to technology.

Modern-day suburban storm cellar.

4' x 6' Twister pod.

For the cellar alternative, some people buy Twister pods. They are metal tubes that are bolted down to the floor, usually in the garage or basement if you live in an area that has them, and are designed to lock yourself in during the storm, You can buy them from most home improvement stores. They take up less space than a cellar and are significantly cheaper because there is no excavation needed. However, they run around $3,500-$3,800 for the 4'x6' tubes to upwards of $15,000 for the rooms style pods. For most people, this would be a luxury to have one installed into one's home. They also take up space, something most people cannot afford to give up since our garages are often just in-home storage units for all the crap we own.

In the absence of a cellar or pod, how do you prepare to protect yourself and/or your family in the event a tornado strikes? These are my tips for turning a closet into a temporary survival shelter.

  1. Get prepared. Much like the ants of Aesop, preparation is crucial. Make a checklist and then get the items you need. These include packaged food and water, a medical kit, an emergency radio, flashlights, fresh batteries, your phone, charged phone charging battery packs, and any necessary items for your pets.

  2. Additional key items that you rarely hear to include are pillows, blankets, gloves, bike helmets, and shoes/boots. In the event a tornado strikes your home, it is going to get torn asunder. Burying yourself under blankets can help shield you from flying debris that would otherwise shred you. A helmet will protect the most important part of your body - your brain. In the aftermath, you will need shoes and boots to protect your hands and feet. Too often, tornadoes hit in the evening or at night. In their panic, people shelter in place but are often barefoot because they are home relaxing or in bed.

  3. Learn to recognize the weather. Rarely does a tornado surprise us, unless we are asleep, but we can't depend entirely on the weatherman. If you lose your TV signal, how will you know? There are tell-tale signs of tornado activity.

  4. When it's time to take shelter, don't fuck around. It is human nature to want to see the disaster as it approaches. Kill that urge and get yourself as safe as possible immediately.

Tornados are frightening yet fascinating. They are a great example of how nature can be beautiful and mesmerizing in its destructiveness. We all want to see a tornado but if you do, be smart about it. In the meantime, prepare to protect. Your significant other, parents, siblings, children, friends, and pets are counting on you.


For more information, please check out:

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