Had I known that when I left the comfort of my friend’s home I would drive literally into the vicious line of thunderstorms that attacked Connecticut Thursday night, with my kids, I would have stayed put.
I did not realize that a) the storms were so close and b) that “severe” was the understatement of the year.
When I left my friend’s house, a place we spent a lazy and hazy hot and humid afternoon by her pool, the skies were dark. Very dark. Like 9 p.m. dark. But it was only 5. I should have realized.
The temperature went from 94 to 61 all in about 15 minutes. And the wind came upon me all of a sudden as I drove down to the end of her street. If I were to guess, I’d say the gusts were near 50 mph.
And then the rain came. It was as if I was in a drive though car wash, only there was no soap, only hail stones and tree branches and leaves. Everywhere.
Every time a strike of lightning lit up the sky or seemed like it hit the ground in front of us, I’d slam on the brakes. I only realized I was doing this because my son kept pointing it out. I could no longer turn around, because the storm was everywhere behind me. I thought that the rubber tires may be our safeguard. Stopping wasn’t an option, either. On the very wooded road, I feared a tree branch would surely fall on my car.
So I bared down on my steering wheel, focusing on the road, saying prayers that I would get my kids and myself home safely and tried not to let the kids know I was scared to death. The wind was whipping, the lightning intermingled with bent over trees and I drove slowly, dodging fallen branches and a lot of road debris. The power was out in my friend’s town — the blacked out traffic lights swung with such intensity on their wires I was surprised they didn’t fall to the pavement. At an intersection, people stopped and let others go. I don’t know if they were being courteous or it was a better you than me scenario driving through the storm.
There were trees down blocking the main road so I had to make some detours. My kids and I tried to assess the damage outside but it was hard to see through the driving rain on our windshield. All we could see was hail, tree branches and the bent over trees and lots of obstacles in the road.
We saw a tree split right down the middle — probably a casualty of cloud to ground lightning strike.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we made it home. Probably the worst of the storm had left our town by then, but it was still pouring and the wind and thunder and lightning still raged on even as we ran from the garage into the safety of our home and my husband. Thankfully we had our power.
Later, I learned that there was indeed a tornado and it was captured on video by a man in our town. There were so many people without power and many who had to face worse scenarios than I did. A friend posted on Facebook that she was blocked both ways by fallen trees and downed wires and she and her three kids had to wait out the storm in their car and then trudge through a swamp to get to safety. The car sat there for a day or two.
Some people posted pictures of the damage to their streets or others they were able to capture.
Even now, four days later, the clean up still wages on. Some power may still be out and some are at least without phone, cable and internet.
For me the only lasting effect of driving through the storm was that I bared down so hard on my steering wheel, body crouching over the wheel and tense, that now Icy Hot and Advil are not doing anything whatsoever about the sore muscles in my neck and back.
I am pretty sure storm chasing is not in the cards for me. Too stressful and I was trying to get out of one!
But at least we made it safely home.
This experience has indeed given me a new sense of appreciation for Mother Nature and all she is capable of. It was by far the scariest weather I have ever experienced. For sure.
I had to reaffirm to my son, who said more than once in the car “I don’t like this, but I am not scared,” that yes, he very well should be scared of Mother Nature’s wrath.
When she is mad, she is very, very mad.