I may live in California now, but I’m a Minnesota girl at heart, so when I heard a tornado was spotted north of Sacramento today, I got excited. Really excited. It’s not every day, or even every year, that you hear of a tornado hitting Northern California. My excitement level was heightened since I was producing the 5 p.m. newscast. Weather was already the lead, but a picture of a tornado within driving distance of the Bay Area is any producer’s dream, especially this producer. So here was today’s dream come true.
This is not to sound flip about a potentially dangerous or even deadly weather event, but in this case, no one was hurt.
Tornadoes are about as common in Minnesota, as earthquakes are in California. During my elementary school years, I like millions of other kids, spent plenty of times sitting in the hallway practicing tornado drills. Writing this, I can picture with the utmost clarity sitting on the cold hallway floor, with my head between my knees, until we got the all clear signal. I also remember heading down to my basement any time we heard the severe weather siren, which would happen at least a couple of times a year.
I not only lived there, but also worked at a couple of local TV stations in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and produced my fair share of severe weather newscasts. I remember the meteorologist at KSTP, Dave Dahl, went on a storm chasing expedition, and he found himself smack dab in the middle of a tornado. He and his crew, along with a bunch of other people on the highway sought shelter under a highway overpass, while the twister passed by them. The photographer was rolling the whole time, which although was probably not the smartest move, he captured some amazing video. Luckily no one got hurt, but you could hear just how scared everyone was. Dave Dahl was miked up, and he kept screaming, “debris! debris!” Unfortunately, since it happened in 1995ish, I couldn’t find the video clip, so you’ll just have to trust me it was some of the best tornado chasing video I’ve ever seen.
The tornado in Colusa County was nowhere near as dramatic as that one, not by a long shot, but it did make me a bit nostalgic for my home state. I don’t miss the tornado drills, but I do miss some of the memories.