Jan 23

Candace vs. the Tornado

I have always had a fascination with weather since as young as I can remember.  I think I got a lot of that from my grandfather.  Pops would be constantly listening to the weather and checking his trusty barometer which he hung proudly in his living room.  He was the type of person who would drive to the ocean if a hurricane were coming to see the big waves.   Mind you, in Nova Scotia driving to the ocean to see a hurricane swell is a much safer activity than doing the same thing in South Carolina. Yes, he was a little obsessed about the weather and I have definitely followed in that obsession.

My inherited obsession with the weather and storms, in particular, has allowed me to put myself in perhaps not the safest of places.   In the late nineties I decided to try my hand, one afternoon, at storm chasing in the Canadian prairies.  Thunderstorms in Canada tend to be much safer than their American counterparts.  The big danger is usually lightning which can kill you regardless of which side of the border you are on.  I am probably lucky that I never got struck as I stood in a field with a disposable camera trying to catch a lightning bolt.  I did luck out and got a pretty great shot for the lack of a proper camera.


Let’s jump ahead ten years when I was spending Christmas in Alabama.  December is not typically the time of year for a lot of storm activity and I was pleasantly surprised when the tornado warning came.  I have always wanted to see a tornado and I was honestly hoping that this was going to be my chance.  The family I was staying with was calm about the storm warning and said they were ready to bunker down if necessary.  I, on the other hand, was rearing to get outside. I was determined to see what Mother Nature had up her sleeve.

It was windy, windier than I could ever recall experiencing. This made me hopeful as I saw Twister and it was a wind almost like that. I was ready to witness my first tornado if one was going to come along.  Unfortunately, I suffered a setback as I was struck by debris from the storm.  You are probably imagining, a piece of a house or a cow, but it was not that dramatic.  I was hit by a leaf in the eye.  A fast moving leaf to the eye can really sting.  Anyway, it stung enough that I went back inside to get laughed at by the family I was staying with.  They would never have been laughing if the leaf had hit their eyes, let me tell you.  It also turned out to not be a tornado, just a whole lot of wind.

-Candace Mountain

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  1. Eliot

    Great story Candace. I’m glad you made it through your windy ordeal without serious injury. Have you witnessed any large storms or tornados since then?

    1. camountain

      The most intense storm I have ever witnessed was in Gainesville, Florida. It was one of these storms where the lightning tore across the sky in and almost giant forked taking up the whole sky spiderweb. It actually scared me a little.

  2. Fenya “the” Dog

    woof woof. Amazing

    1. camountain

      Thanks Fenya :-)

  3. Henry Spooner.

    I am pleased we do not get these storms in Great Britain.

    1. camountain

      I really need to get over to Britain one of these days.

  4. Steve

    Hi Candace! I never told you the story or 6th grade, with my school matess walking across the golf corse & being chased by a twister down a drainage pipe 4 feet in dia. We watched it comming across the driving range 300 yards that when we devided to crawl in drain pipe, i never felt wind so strong, comming from all angles, and the lightning was one after the other msking the intire area bright as the sun & the thunder was contenuious sounded like a train crashing over and over, well as she passed we came out to see almost every tree snapped like twigs and every 3or4 houses with roofs torn away, looked like a battle zone. I had heard of peices of straw stuck in wood, i dont think it was the same as we saw a plastic drinking straw stuck in the bark of a pine tree! due to being young and stupid I pulled a straw out with a little bit of 0f resistance, instead of going for a camera. when I got home about 50 yards away my mothers car was gone I know she was looking for me, but I was breaking rules by cutting across the golf course, so she never look there, I don’t remember the huge lie I told her
    thought I could not tell her what I actually witnessed because I was in a place where I was not supposed to be, and my father was to woop my little ass, never understood why I couldn’t take a short cut across the golf course and tell my cousin was hit and killed in the head by a golf ball, well brain dead anyway, they kept in my life support for a while but I never seen him again for they lived in Texas and we’re at our house for visitation.jk
    this ordeal is tattooed in my brain I will never forget anything not even the smell in the air of burning wood were trees were struck by lightning there was actually a telephone pole on fire were struck the transformer, that I have been told her full of oil to keep the coils cool, and that well is what caused it to continue to burn afterwards it was incredibly quiet and. eary, except for faint cries of people’s names being called and the phrase oh my god! the strangest thing is 5 minutes after the ordeal The Sun came back out and was all normal again there was no rain whatsoever during this entire time, except a huge anvel head storm over the Gulf of Mexico to the west about a mile away, this tornado must have been an offshoot from that storm, I also remember it snapin and whipping as it was comming. kinda like a huge whip the sky, I believe when it snapped and came back and it was over house that house was destroyed.I could be totally wrong, but my family and I survived at least 6 tornadoes living there in the Tampa Bay area. for which Tampa is the lightning capital of United States. during a storm we use to set up the chairs by the sliding glass doors open the drapes and watch the show, the electricity was usually off by this time do the lighting strike but even though there was no lights you could actually read a newspaper just from the lighting and so many hit that there wasn’t one sin boom they all combined into one huge grumble, there is no word for the sound that those storms make!!! it is definitely something to behold hey our experiences I will never ever forget.
    just as a side note I remember in school having tornado drills, but now I realize that they only work for tornadoes it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis it was more a duck and cover type of drill under our desks, plus the worst time for tornadoes are the one that calm during hurricanes right there you have a double threat, for real. Thanks for reading me.

  5. Steve

    Candace, my dad built hi retirement house about 60 miles south of gainsville, so in both Tampa & Stienhatchee a fishing village where you still pay homested tax about 1 mile.east.up the stienhatchee river is where i saw ths.same sideways spiderweb type of lightning? This is what bewilders me, where is the negitive.ground it is seeking?

  6. Steve

    I have been told by Swim census is heat lightning, well that explains just about as much as a garden gnome, to me? I have read by scientist that there’s no such thing as heat lightning that it’s a myth. this electrical energy must find a ground somewhere and if it is striking horizontally I just don’t understand where it finds its ground, anybody that can explain this is welcome.
    But Candace is it not a sight to behold? I have some photos around somewhere misplaced a moving box. if I ever can find them I will share them to bring back your memory, but I’m sure your memory is clear as a bell. Ttyl mz. Candace. Peace & huggz for you dear woman of intellegence & style!

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