Well, it finally happened. I finally saw my first tornado on May 23, 2016 in Woodward, Oklahoma. I have been waiting for my husband to catch me one for five years. We have gone chasing a handful of times on very promising days and at the most saw hail. I thought I was bad luck! Whenever I’d go out on a chase, the day would fizzle. The days I would stay back, he’d see amazing tornadoes.
I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to chasing, and I have a list of ‘tornado-must-haves’ for the tornado I want to see. You see, I absolutely hate driving. I hate being in the car for extended periods of time, in the middle of no where, with no one around; quite simply it makes me very anxious. I am not one of those people that loves the open road and having no one around. I mean, what if a tire blew or I choke on food? So days I actually go chasing, I have to be in the right state-of-mind. Aaron and I have his favorite weather app (Radar Scope) running the entire time that shows other chasers in the area and depicts them as little dots on the map. Call me crazy, but I get comfort in seeing those little dots around us when we’re in butt-f*ck Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, etc…
My ‘must-have’ list for a tornado consists of the following:
1. The tornado must be within a few hours of my starting point so I don’t have to be in the car for 14+ hours.
2. The tornado can only hit fields, it can’t hit a populated area.
3. References to the movie Twister must happen as often as possible.
4. The tornado must be obvious. It must have that iconic wedge look to it.
5. It must be accessible to see and chase on a paved road. I don’t want to be stuck in mud in the middle of no where (what if the dots can’t find us?)
6. A ‘selfie’ opportunity is a must.
Our day started off…hesitant. Aaron wasn’t sure if the storm would develop or not. It was a promising day, all the ingredients for a tornado were there, but it wasn’t certain. After a few hours of careful forecasting and analysis on his part, we decided to get on the road and chase the storm 2 hours to our West. I love my husband,I support him, I know he knows what he’s doing, but given my track record, I was preparing for a bust. In my mind, this was a fun little road trip with my hubby to western Oklahoma, so, I started the road trip playlist and began taking photos for my blog of me being bored waiting for a tornado that was never going to happen.
I know, I know, it was kind of mean of me, but in my defense, I hadn’t seen a tornado in 5 years. I played the part of navigator (which is comical, because I’m very bad at it) while he forecasted. He would stare out the window at the clouds and make predictions based off what the clouds were doing. He was one step away from grabbing the dirt and becoming a human barometer. He was definitely channeling his inner Bill Harding, while I was more like Melissa, drink in hand saying “Hey where’re we going?” Except looking back at it, since I was navigator I should have known…huh…now I’m thinking I didn’t really play a roll at all that day.
Aaron’s human barometer skills were on point. We had been parked in Woodward, OK for about a half hour trying to determine if anything was going to happen or if we should cut our losses and head back to OKC. He saw something in
the clouds radarscope , and decided to drive north. And wouldn’t you know it? There wasn’t a tornado…nope, not yet at least. The storm, as I learned, was cycling. Yes, I learned all about the life cycle of a tornado, what scud, downdrafts, and outflows all were.
The storm was teasing me. It looked promising, looked like the tornado was going to drop, then it would cycle out (I don’t know if that’s the right terminology, but that’s what I’m saying). We ended up waiting an hour for the storm to mature. Then it happened. Not only did the tornado finally drop, but it hit everything on my ‘must-have’ list. It was incredible. I learned that it was the ‘best’ tornado experience because it didn’t move, it stayed in one spot and it stayed there for a long time, long enough for me to take a tornadoie (that’s right, a tornado selfie).
It was glorious! I have officially crossed seeing a tornado off my bucket list because I finally saw my first tornado!
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me ‘what is the weather going to be today?’ I’d literally have tens of dollars. But, it is a reality I am faced with with every severe weather season and with any threat of moisture that comes out of the sky. I suddenly become everyone’s go-to person because I am married to the
weatherman meteorologist. It’s like they think I am privy to secret weather information; that I’ll be able to tell them the exact time, wind speed, accumulation, etc. that will hit their house that day.
April and May in Oklahoma are my least favorite months for various reasons, including:
- I don’t see my husband
- There is no such thing as a schedule (see previous blog here.)
- I suddenly need to act as media spokesman for the friends and co-workers to educate everyone on what to expect for weather events that day/week.
- My phone blows up with “Is there going to be a tornado?” “Do I need to seek shelter?”
But what you don’t know is on severe weather outbreak days my husband is doing 12-15+ hour long days, prepping, chasing, forecasting, phoning into the station, working behind the scenes literally answering all the questions viewers want to know. There is no time for him to tell the storm “hold on so I can text my wife and let her know what the weather is in her backyard.” From me to you, I might hear from him once or twice on a severe weather day simply as a status update, otherwise I have to watch the news just like everyone else.
My advice to you is, turn on the news, the
weathermen meteorologists will give you the most accurate information and will break it down by the minute and literally tell you if it’s going to hit your house or not. The behind the scenes action is incredible on severe weather days. While you see one to two weatherman meteorologists on air, there are double to triple the people behind the green screen, looking at new models coming in, getting viewer photos to share, communicating with the chasers, creating new graphics, etc. Then you have all the storm chasers out on the road following every single major storm cell to inform the viewers exactly where it is and where it is going. All 3 major stations in Oklahoma City have helicopter pilots that are on the storm to provide a birds-eye-view of what the storm is acting like. And all of that are only the storm teams! This doesn’t even go into the newsroom and all the reporters and anchors and what they are putting together to inform everyone what’s happened when a storm blows through.
I’ve asked Aaron if he could so kindly take a break to text me if a tornado is headed towards our neighborhood, or at least give me a personal shout-out on air, he said he could do that, so to any friends we have in the surrounding area, I will do my best to text you personally if there is a need to worry. But again, my advice to you is be prepared. Have your storm shelter ready, or have a safe room to go to in your home, don’t go driving around running errands if you know a storm is headed your way, have a weather radio, download your favorite local station’s weather apps, and tune in to the local channels see exactly what’s happening.
We did it! We had our baby! Please welcome Mr. Caden Brackett into the world!!! He’s the best thing that has ever happened and we are blessed to have him with us. It was an incredible journey to go on for 40 weeks, but it was worth it. Coming up with a name was challenge No. 1. Apparently, when you’re a
weatherman meteorologist you know a lot of ‘guys’ and because you ‘know a guy’ who did xyz in college that takes the name off the table for our baby. The name Bill Paxton Brackett was on the docket, but we decided against it at the last moment. Phew, dodged a bullet there! I like the movie Twister and all, but I need to draw the line somewhere! 40 weeks came and went and Mr. Caden decided to take his sweet time coming out. We were anxious for his arrival, but ready. The nursery was all set up, car seats were installed, overnight hospital bags were packed, and neighbors were set up to watch our two dogs. Caden was due on October 23rd, 2015. That day came and went with no indication of going into labor. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. As any mom knows, when that due date comes, baby needs to come out ASAP! But, being his mother, I knew he was going to be stubborn about the whole thing and take his sweet time. Thank goodness he didn’t learn to be totally stubborn like me right off the bat, because labor started at 4:15 am the next morning.
4:15 am on October 24th, 2015 was a pivotal moment in the Brackett household. First, I had no idea what I was experiencing. I thought it was all in my head because I wanted it to happen, so naturally, I ignored my body and was in denial for a few hours before the pain got to be unbearable and I decided to wake up my husband. 6:30 am I wake Aaron up and verbatim say, “So, I think I might be having contractions.” I then bent over in agony and stated, “…but I’m not sure.” Haha! silly me. But when it’s your first kid, you really have no idea what is going on. The hospital doesn’t want to see you until the contractions are 5 min apart and last for 1 min long each. I was having contractions every 2-3 min at 40 seconds long each, therefore, I was not following the pattern the hospital required, so I didn’t see a need to go in just yet. This is where labor and delivery begins to mimic a storm chaser.
Storm chasers get into what I call “Go Mode”. They are very educated, they look at tons of maps, do a lot of math, and follow the severe weather
at a safe distance. Their “Go Mode” is frantically looking at their phones and computers, freaking out a little bit (who am I kidding, a lot a bit) and putting the pedal-to-the-metal to get to where the storm is. They don’t always use full sentences, and often times are incoherent with the facts as their brains are moving a million miles a minute. There is an excitement in the air and a frantic-ness that something big is about to happen and if they take one extra second to tell you what is going on, all will be lost. Screeching tires on side-dirt roads in the middle of nowhere kick up dirt, there is a ton of yelling and ‘nerd-talk’. If you are unfortunate enough to be taking a bathroom break at the time, you may find yourself running out of said bathroom while pulling up your pants (again, who am I kidding, a bathroom? Ha! I mean peeing on the side of the road). Once they make it into the chase car they are in they blast their ‘chasing music’ and begin arguing with each other on what route to take. Once they finally agree, it’s every-chaser for himself. Everyone eventually winds up around the same areas and either sees something or they don’t, but nonetheless its very exciting. To get a glimpse at the action, see the video below.
In a sense, labor and delivery is the same way. Go-mode happens and all the preparation a couple has taken the past 40-weeks to be ready goes out the window and all hell breaks loose. Once the couple accepts the fact that the baby is coming, there’s no stopping the storm that’s brewing (damn, I’m good at writing). Our personal story was Aaron packed the car as quickly as possible, I slumped over in pain, and we found ourselves in the car driving
the speed limit to the hospital. The manageable cramping pain I had a few hours ago turned into my body turning against me and my organs wanting to tear themselves out of my body, twisting and stabbing me along the way. Yes, I was exactly what you see in the movies. I was that pregnant woman going through labor, closing my eyes, trying the Lamaze breathing (that is a joke) screaming at my husband to get to the hospital as fast as he can.
Luckily Aaron is a trained storm chasing, meteorologist, that always remains calm, cool, and collected under pressure.
HAHA, just kidding. We were frantic. We couldn’t get to the hospital quick enough. He put the pedal-to-the-metal and cranked that music up (no, he didn’t, I was very particular about not wanting to listen to anything or be touched), his sentences, and mine, were incoherent, we were screeching tires, passing traffic, there was arguing on which road to take, but we eventually got to the hospital. Then, as every storm chase that I’ve been on has ended with nothing happening. The hospital made us wait an hour to prove labor was moving along. This was the most excruciating hour of my life. Let me repeat, OF MY LIFE!!!! They said “walk around, it will help…” my reaction was something along the lines of:
But, long story short, I was admitted into the labor room and quickly given an epidural and became a little less crazy at that point:
13 hours later (might I mention, this is less time than any storm chase I’ve been on), our little miracle entered this world. Sure there were times where I was drugged out and when the nurses were talking to Aaron about storms and tornadoes I interjected with off the wall comments about football having them react like, “um, what?” And there were times that Aaron was white as a ghost in shock, disbelief, and utter disgust. But the day was beautiful, we had a healthy boy, and our lives were forever changed for the sleep-deprived better. I honestly couldn’t think about a better analogy for labor and delivery other than it mimics the total chaos of a storm chaser finding their tornado of the day.
If you’re in the weather field at all, odds are you’ve watched the movie Twister. It’s a movie that’s been around for 20 years (incredible). If you are ever chasing in Oklahoma or live in Oklahoma, it’s should be mandatory for you to visit the Twister Museum in Wakita, OK where Aunt Meg lived. Below are the steps a weatherman and a Meteorologist must take when visiting the Twister Museum:
Call the Twister Museum ahead of time to make sure they are open. If they are, put on a weather related t-shirt (in this case, Aaron chose KFOR’s sister station KAUT) and head over!
Find a kick @$$ road trip partner and drink caffeinated drinks & eat sugary snacks to fuel yourself for the road trip.
Once you are fueled up on caffeine and sugar, enjoy the wind in your hair and sing 90’s songs at the top of your lungs (Backstreet’s back, alright!?).
Once you find Wakita, do not drive past it without realizing it. It is a town of 400 with a few stop signs. If you do drive past it (like we did) find the iconic water tower (take pictures with it) and turn around as the road you came in on was the main road in Wakita. Don’t worry, the speed limit is 15mph-you have time:
Flashback to Austin Powers:
The Twister Museum is the last ‘store’ on the East side of the main road, park outside and find the owner of the museum, Linda:
Have Linda take you on a tour of the museum. It’s almost mandatory to have Linda show you around. She has stories about every piece, every actor, every ‘behind the scene’ experience, it’s absolutely wonderful to hear her stories about the making of the movie Twister.
Thank Linda for a wonderful experience, donate some money to the museum, and take parting shots (make sure to wear sunglasses as the Oklahoma wind is no joke in Wakita).
On your way out of Wakita, don’t forget to find Aunt Megs house to reenact the food scene.
Haha, just kidding, they tore it down after the movie was made, but there is a nice overgrown memorial garden(?) in it’s place with a nice brick road homage to The Wizard Of Oz movie.
Not a mandatory step, but since Twister is the most accurate tornado movie out there, I thought I’d share this YouTube video that features Everything Wrong with the Twister Movie.
Honey, take notes, we clearly need to have a Dodge Ram and you need to start reading dirt to be an accurate tornado chaser.
If you would like to visit the Twister Museum please follow the link: http://www.twistercountry.com/ Their 20 year celebration is in September 2015!
Given that today is the first snow day this season that Oklahoma has had, I thought it’d be appropriate to present you with the 5 stages of a snow day as told by viewer comments, and then me:
- Denial and Isolation
Viewer: “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Me: “Hey, Aaron, is it really going to snow?”
Viewer: “Rule of thumb: Whatever is predicted by OKC Meaty Urologists, we’ll actually get 1/10th of that. So, we’ll get about 1/10th of an inch here in OKC.”
Me: “What do you mean you have to work extra hours!? It’s only 1-2 inches!”
Viewer: “Can I please get a snow day for work?”
Me: “If they have you work extra hours, can you get an extra day off?”
Viewer: “I am so ready for summer!”
Me: “I guess the dogs and I will catch up on some Netflix. I’ve been meaning to watch every episode of Mad Men in one block of time.”
Viewer: “I love the snow, hell if it’s going too be cold, it makes it even better w/ the snow!”
Me: “Yay, Netflix!”
I’m not sure how much snow we’ve actually gotten as I’ve done today what I’ve always done when watching local news, where I watch it and it goes in one ear and out the other, but I like to base everything off of the amount of snow the dogs bring into the house, so I’m guessing we’ve gotten like 10″inches or so. The reporters are all standing outside freezing their butts off reporting on driving conditions on the 1-2″ we’ve gotten in the metro, it’s pretty much looking like this out there:
Yay snow days!
I’m sure at this point, you have been with your significant other on a date night, their phone makes a noise so they open it to take a look, you roll your eyes because they shouldn’t be looking at it in the first place, you ask them to put it down, and you move on with your night. I don’t get this luxury. When a
weatherman’s Meteorologists phone goes off, no matter what occasion it is, they legitimately have to look at it.
Aaron literally has too many weather apps to count on his phone (OK, whatever, I counted 11; but still, you get my point). There is one for radar, one for the Mesonet, one for the NWS (National Weather Service), and some other really nerdy ones that don’t even make sense to me when he opens them. Regardless, he needs to look at his phone for incoming storms to know if he has to book it into work or if he needs to post something on social media so his viewing audience knows what is about to happen.
Besides Aaron looking at his phone all the time, we also can’t do normal activities without weather being brought up. We went to an OKC Thunder game the other night and verbatim he asks me, “Why do you think they didn’t play with the whole “Thunder” word more with the logo? Don’t you think it would look cool if they had a
lightening lightning bolt in it?” My answer to him was, “Because they wanted to be a classy team and a lightening lightning bolt would be corny.”
Not only did we have to discuss the lack of a
lightening lightning bolt being on their logo, but he also had to analyze the fact that the Chesapeake Arena would not be an ideal building to be in during a tornado. In case you were wondering the fact that it’s a big, steel building that fits 20,000+ people is what makes it unfit to be in during a tornado.
oh yea, we also had to talk about the impending doom of a tornado hitting the city. “It’s not if, but when.”
Now that you are thoroughly scared that a tornado will inevitably hit OKC, I can tell you the fact that I couldn’t even go through my wedding day without hearing about the weather. Yup, we had an entire table at our venue, actually, 2 tables now that I think about it, filled with
weathermen meteorologists. To say that they all share a special bond wouldn’t express the amount of “brotherhood” these guys share with one another. There was an impromptu karaoke song that broke out in the middle of the reception where the Beach Boys song “Kokomo” came on. In our hometown of Rockford, Illinois the weatherman Meteorologists made a parody of “Kokomo” by inserting local counties into the lyrics “Way down in Winnebago.” (Shout out to Mark Henderson <WIFR> and Eric Sorenson <WQAD> for writing the lyrics and blessing my wedding day with the following:
“…baby why don’t we go down to Marengo we’ll get there fast and then we’ll pay a toll, that’s where I wanna go, way down to Winnebago.”
Fun times? Yes. Weather related? Absolutely. Do I expect to hear about weather on a daily basis? Unfortunately.
These are just a few days in the life of being a wife of a
weatherman Meteorologist. On a day-to-day basis I talk about weather more than any other person naturally would, but I still have to ask my friends and co-workers what the weather is going to be that day because when Aaron tells me it honestly goes in one ear and out the other because I’m unsure of when I actually need to listen 😉 You can’t blame me though because I literally can’t go one day without talking about the weather.
The inspiration for me to write this blog came pretty easily after Aaron got to go up in the station helicopter this week. As a disclaimer, I am very supportive of my husband, I am very happy for him with all the wonderful experiences he gets to have through his job as a TV
weatherman Meteorologist in the 3 markets we have lived in (Rockford, Tucson, & Oklahoma City), every opportunity he gets is a blessing to have been given, but I have to admit, I’m hella jealous sometimes. Scratch that, I’m jealous of him every time!!! He has been able to do some really cool things while I get to hang out in my awesome office chair staring at a computer screen all day long. Now,I don’t want to say my job is boring, I do get to go up and down the stairs to use different printers which is always exciting as my computer doesn’t always connect the first few times; so I then get to go back and forth, and back and forth to try and figure out why that darn printer isn’t printing. It’s usually something fun like I forgot to actually hit the ‘print’ button or it’s out of paper. I also get to go into the warehouse sometimes and experience what no A/C feels like on a hot summer day while taking care of miscellaneous ‘marketing’ tasks; this is exciting because I get to feel like I’m in the show “The Office”- they don’t play basketball in there, and there is no artist painting a mural on the wall, and my boss doesn’t hold ‘jam sessions’ with his band, we also don’t have a bailer for me to put bubble wrap into (side-note: we do have bubble paper in the office, and I do get to pop it), but there are industrial sized fans which are fun to stand in front of, I kind of look like this (except my hair is in my face and I have work appropriate clothes on, but when I’m wearing a skirt it gets interesting…): Let’s be honest, when I’m not in front of the industrial sized fans, I’m more like: Let’s be even more honest, Aaron’s job is cooler in every way. Here are some fun thing’s he’s done the past 5 years that I’m totally jealous of so happy he’s been able to experience: Continue reading