The day started out dark and cloudy, as predicted. It looked like it could rain at any time. By noon we had the car packed and ready to head to Mahoney State Park for our nearly annual trip with the Liess clan. About 45 minutes into the 2.5 hour drive it started to get very dark and we could tell that it was going to rain. It rained – hard. It was nothing unusual, so we continued heading West.
It got incredibly dark because the clouds were so thick and up ahead the kids were relieved to see some brighter skies. I could see the skies, too, but I knew that they were not supposed to be green. I have always heard that the sky turns green before a tornado and now I knew what that meant. It was an eerie calm before the storm. Even when we got to the ‘brighter’ skies the rain never stopped. It just intensified and it started to hail. Driving on the interstate was difficult because it was so hard to see. I would have exited, but there was not an exit for several miles.
The rain and hail was so hard that we had to pull over. We were in a construction zone and the right lane was closed so I joined the legions of other drivers who decided to ride out the storm in park. We still had the radio on and our song was interrupted by the emergency alert system, “A tornado has been indicated by radar in Guthrie County near Stuart, IA and is headed toward Des Moines. Take shelter immediately.” Or something like that. Does a car count as shelter?
By this point Lucia was asleep and the other kids (and mom and dad) were a little scared. The wind, rain, and hail were intense and we could not see even when we were parked. The car was rocking because of the wind. I told Susan to just keep an eye out and if need be I would drive off the road into a ditch. I pulled up the radar on my phone (a screenshot would have been nice) and the blue dot indicating our location was right in the center or the purple area.
It was definitely tense for a few minutes, but eventually the storm started to slow down and once we could get driving again I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I don’t know if there was a tornado, but the high winds were evident. The construction cones were all over the road, there were entire corn fields where the corn was snapped in half, we saw one semi that had been blown off the road, and there was plant matter all over the place.
After the storm we called Mimi and Papa. They were just a few minutes behind us and had decided to stop at Subway for lunch. This all occurred while they were at Subway in Stuart and they had to spend 10-15 minutes inside of the pitch dark refrigerator!