I Kicked a Tornado in the Face

The other day, the Tennessee Valley experienced some inclement weather.

And by inclement, I mean “heavy storms”. And by “heavy storms”, I really mean that there were fucking tornadoes.

In the Tennessee Valley.
For those of you who do not live in the Tennessee Valley, tornadoes do not happens here a lot. We don’t even have tornado sirens. Back in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up, we had tornado sirens. Tornadoes were not rare at all there and we had drills (and actual emergencies) more than once in my childhood.

I digress. The evening that I murdered a tornado, I arrived at my in-laws’ house to retrieve Nellie before heading out to pick up Josh from work. The weather was getting bad, and the news stations were flapping about warning about impending storm pockets and funnel clouds. I decided to stay there as long as I could before venturing out to get Josh, so we were all talking and playing with Nellie. The sky darkened, and it started to rain sideways. We marveled at Mother Nature, and watched various things fly through the air outside. After a few moments, it ended and we all went back to playing with the kiddo.

My father in law expressed some concern about me going all the way out to get Josh with Nellie in the car and all of this bad weather about so I agreed to leave her there and get him without her.

I went on my way, and was hitting pockets of rain here and there but nothing serious. Chattanooga is chock full of bridges that carry you across the Tennessee River; one of these methods across being the Chickamauga Dam. As I was driving up on the dam, it started to rain. Hard. As I slowed down and continued my way across the dam and was about to reach the highest point, the wind started blowing.
Really, really hard.
I was driving along side a van, and in front of me about ten feet ahead was another car. We all slowed down to a stop because the wind was whipping so hard we were having a hard time staying steady in our lanes.

Then, it got really bad. My car started rocking and swaying. Debris started flying up and over the road, whipping around in the air. As I sat there, unsure of what to do the fencing/wire caging to my right ripped off the side of the dam, and flew into the road. Poles were blowing across the road and landing, and the fencing was blowing around. I looked up and the air around me was debris flying around. I started saying out loud, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do!”
I felt panicked, and felt like I had to get off the dam right at that very second. All I could think about was, what do I do if this.. Whatever lifts my car up and throws me in the river? Should I get OUT of the car???
I began backing up to get off the dam but there was debris in the road everywhere, and I was afraid of running something over. When the winds stopped blowing and things stopped flying around, the driver beside me began slowly making his way forward. I followed, driving carefully over the fencing and across some wire. As I got clear of all the wreckage in the road, I hit the gas and got my ass off that dam.

I was shaking. I was terrified. I pulled over for a few minutes so I could process what had just happened. As I would come to find out later, the wreckage and chaos caused a multiple-car pileup on the other side of the dam (the two sides are separated by a divider), and that what had hit while I was up there was, in fact, a tornado.
An EF2 tornado.

My husband found a video of it on YouTube. What you’re seeing in the video is a camera kind of perched under one side of the dam. The camera is on the side of the dam that I was on; so basically if I had looked to my right, this is what I would have seen coming toward me. When the tornado disappears from the camera’s view, it’s crossing over the top of the dam (where I was) and down to the road on the other side, where it did more damage. The bridge you see in the video is not the dam, rather a railroad bridge beside it.

When I inspected the damage to our car this morning, I was happy to see that there were just a few cosmetic dings, dents, and scratches.

Oh, and this, lodged under the bug shield on the front of our car.

It’s some kind of oily, dirty, rusty ass chain but I don’t know what the fuck it goes to. I’m just luckily this thing didn’t smash through my windshield/window.

I’m also glad that Nellie wasn’t in the car with me, because all logic would have flown out of my head, I would have launched myself out of the car, run around to the back and climbed in there with her. Getting outside of my car probably would have been very foolish and dangerous, not to mention I most likely would have been sobbing and hysterical.

So that, my friends, is the story of how I almost got eaten by a tornado but emerged victorious.