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!
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!
Many people come up to me and ask me what it’s like to be with a husband that is on TV. “It must be so glamorous” they say. “I bet you get a lot of perks!” they chant. “I saw him on TV last night and this morning, whats up with that?” Ding, ding, ding! There we go, my first real question about the ‘perks’ of being a TV
weatherman Meteorologist. Once you actually start watching the news as much as I do, you seriously start noticing the crazy schedules that the weathermen Meteorologists have.
weatherman Meteorologist will have a ‘schedule’ of sorts for the position they have at their station. There is the Chief weatherman Meteorologist that works prime time nights, the Morning position is self explanatory where they will work the morning shows, then you will have other positions that work the weekends, noons, sister stations, etc. All of them will eventually have to fill in for another weatherman Meteorologist with or without sufficient notice. Someone will undoubtedly get sick, have a family situation pop up, car problems, work an extra shift the previous day and be able to make up time by getting someone to pick up a shift they were scheduled for the next day, etc., etc., etc.
While the rest of us work our normal Monday-Friday 8am-5pm job, TV
weatherman Meteorologists can work any of the 7 days of the week, morning, afternoons, nights, split shifts, 12 hour long shifts, no shifts, 6 hour shifts, studio shifts, live shot shifts, tag-teaming the studio shifts, tag-teaming live shot shifts, babysit storms that may or may not develop shifts, making new graphics shifts, school talk shifts, new computer training shifts, 10 days in a row shifts, 15 days in a row shifts, holiday shifts; yes, I can keep going, but at this point, you get it.
I feel like I’m living in the movie “Office Space” sometimes. Aaron will literally work his butt off for 8 days in a row (refer to shifts above), he will FINALLY get a day off and he’d have to go in for TPS report training (if you don’t understand what I’m referring to, stop reading right now and watch the movie “Office Space”- and while you’re at it, watch some episodes of “The Office”- and you might as well watch the movie “Twister” just to keep up with my bloggisms):
Just to give you a peak into the “Brackett” life here is what Aaron’s schedule was this past week:
Saturday: 2:00p-7:00p, dinner break, back in at 8:00p-11:00p
Sunday: Worked on graphics in the morning and afternoon, came home for dinner, went back to do 10:00 show after the football game was over-the show was delayed because of the game, so therefore, he got home after midnight.
Monday: Training from 8:00a-4:00p
Wednesday: “Talent Training” at 5:30p-6:30, “graphics” meeting after that, came home for dinner, went back into the station at 10:00p, stayed overnight to create graphics, came home at 5:30am.
Thursday: OFF- but still went into the station to make sure graphics made a smooth transition
Here is what his schedule should ‘normally’ be:
Thurs-Fri: Split shift 9am-1:00p, 9:00p
Sat-Sun: 5 or 6:00p, 10:00pm
…As a wife, I’m over here like:
How do you plan a life when a “schedule” isn’t really a “schedule”?