My husband, Rick, and I have had some strange experiences with tornadoes, beginning about seven weeks before we were married. We visited Clemson, S.C., about thirty minutes from our hometown, and were on our way to Easley in the November darkness when we noticed an orange light above some trees. This took our attention upward, where we spotted a strange gray mass several feet ahead of and above our car. Suddenly it dropped right in front of us, and Rick hit the brakes. “It’s only mist,” he said as the cloud broke up.
Grateful it was nothing more and that no one was behind us on that stretch of highway, we continued on our way. We still don’t know exactly what the phenomenon was, but Rick said it was swirling, and he thought it was a tornado. The only answers we’ve gleaned over the years are that it was a whirlwind or the smallest type of tornado. What- ever it was, I still have a picture of that gray cloud in my mind.
After we married, we moved to Fort Worth, Texas for three years. One day, after watching dark clouds build for hours, we heard an emergency broadcast on the radio, and for the first time in our lives, it wasn’t a test–it was a real emergency! We knew a tornado was in our area, so we squeezed into a tiny closet, but we couldn’t close the door all the way. Holding the knob as tightly as we could, we hoped there wouldn’t be a real problem. The wind outside picked up, and I thought it was going to blow our windows in! I now think the noise was actually the tornado, which showered hail all over the city, pulling roofs off buildings and smashing car windshields with softball-sized hail.
We emerged from the closet when things calmed down, and later listened to damage reports. Although grateful it wasn’t worse, especially since it was a rather large tornado, we noticed re-roofings all over Fort Worth that summer.