It is a gorgeous, sunny morning. The birds are singing, my daffodils are blooming, and I'm pretty sure today is the day I'll see the Bradford Pear trees put forth their first blossoms. But when you live in Central Arkansas, spring brings severe weather along with sunshine and flowers and bunny rabbits.
Last night when I went to church, I knew we were in a tornado watch. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for producing tornadoes--warm, humid, still, with a cold front approaching. I also knew that there were severe thunderstorms to the southwest of us. For those of you who don't live in thunderstorm country, a severe thunderstorm has frequent, dangerous, lightning, strong winds, heavy rain, and often, large hail. Large as in the size of golf balls. Severe thunderstorms are spectacular, and I usually adore them. They are such a clear picture of the power and awesomeness of God. However, I don't get quite as excited about severe thunderstorms during a tornado watch. A severe thunderstorm warning can turn into a tornado warning in the blink of an eye. A tornado warning is issued when forecasters see rotation in the clouds. The technology is incredible.
So anyhoo, I'm the commander for our church's Awana program. On any given Awana night, I usually have about 120-150 kiddos in my care. I have a fantastic group of leaders who work with me, too. So last night at 6:30, I had completed check-in and was putting the computer away when the tornado sirens started blasting. I ran upstairs and got the leaders in action, getting the kids into lines and filing downstairs. We have 2 large, interior hallways that seal off from the outer part of the building. They are perfect for situations like this. All the kids thought it was a tornado drill, and they behaved perfectly. I was so proud! Our pastor's wife led the kids in singing all sorts of fun songs, which drowned out the sirens. When I was sure everyone was situated safely, I headed outside to where a few of our adult guys were watching the storm. One of them is a firefighter, and he was on the radio with his station. There was a tornado on the ground, only about 3 miles away, and it was headed in our direction.