When the hot, hot sun heats up the humid air, it should be no surprise big storms come during the summer months. In fact, to me it wouldn’t be summer without watching the radar as storm cells pop up out of nowhere and end outdoor gatherings and send mothers sprinting to get things off clothes lines.
Our kids are fellow radar fanatics. As soon as there's a dark cloud somewhere in the sky, I see them swiping around on their phones, each announcing when they think the rain will come and how intense it will be. They come by it honestly, though, because I am right there with them with my own worst-case scenario forecast.
Because to be brutally honest, I am afraid of storms.
Dangle my legs off a 3,000-foot cliff and I’ll kick my feet around and sing a song. But if the skies get dark and the air turns that weird shade of green, I am in the basement with blankets, flashlights, my dogs and potato chips. Watching the radar. Preparing for a doomsday of wind and probably trees flying through windows and stuff like that.
People are always surprised when I confess my fear of storms. They think I should be like every other good Midwesterner who watches them from the incredible safety of an open garage while sitting on lawn chairs. "Were you in a bad storm as a child?" they ask me. And while I can remember a few large storms, there was never a tornado or anything catastrophic. I’m just a wimp.
I like to respond to their question with, "Did your dad ever make you listen to the radio for lightning strikes?" Most people did not have this pleasure growing up, I’ve learned. Because before the days of the handy radar at your fingertips, my dad would turn on AM 550 and listen for the severity, direction and closeness of lightning strikes. If the clicks and pops were clear and loud, the lightning was close. If they were muffled and fuzzy, I had time to gather my favorite stuffed animals and snacks (always snacks) and hunker down for safety.
It could be those intense minutes of staring at the radio, waiting with anticipation for a crack of lightning that make me fearful of storms. Or it could be watching The Wizard of Oz too many times as a kid. Or it could just be a strong appreciation for the power of nature — she’s nothing to mess with. Thankfully I have the memory of my dad always keeping me safe when the storm passed and the radio turned from AM back to FM.
I think my kids need to turn their phones off and the radio on next chance we get. It’s just about summer. Shouldn’t have to wait long.