Church of Christ
Mission USA

Some Firsts, Including Going Through A Band Of Tornadoes

Thursday, June the 17th was windy and calling for thunderstorms where we are working, so we decided to go east for the day since we could not door knock.  We need a break ever now and then anyway so we try to take days that we cannot door knock.  This was our third one day trip since being here.  We headed due east on I-90 to the Mississippi River which divides the states of MN & WI.  We saw a lot of nice things on this short trip: in fact it was the first time I ever saw a bald eagle in the wilds; it was soaring above for a little while.  I love being around the river when I can see it well, and we could, going up Hwy 61 the "River Road."  We saw the usual things: trains, boats, barges, locks.  We got to see a small boat come through a lock at Alma, WI.  This is where I saw the eagle and other feathered friends. 

We are now experiencing weather many of you have for most your life.  On the way back we were faced with a series of tornadoes separating us from home sweet home (if indeed we had one to return to).  A record setting 39 tornadoes were reported in the state of MN.  Thirteen of “them things” were sited around Albert Lea which separated us from home.  We stopped at a Burger King (what a time for a burger!) about 20 miles away at Austin.  The storm producing the tornadoes was moving NE, we were headed due west.  Of course a tornado can go in any direction and change directions at will—if they have a will.  Also, tornadoes can develop anywhere at any moment during such storms as this.  Furthermore, they may be embedded in the clouds which reach all the way to the ground as we were seeing to the NW and may not be visible at all.  Others may be almost transparent until they pick up debris.

The great darkness was west and all the way around north of us, and of course a lot over us and the wind was strong.  We had a burger while keeping an eye on the sky and knowing the workers would alert us to any sightings (I could hear their weather radio in the back).  Afterwards, we went out to the car and pulled around so we could see the northwestern sky and listened to a radio station that was giving continuous coverage of the area with live call-ins (this was very helpful).  We waited for about 45 minutes, tracking the tornadoes and trying to pinpoint them on the map.  In the meanwhile, I tried to get a shot of a lightning flash, but only got one small one (later, during another warning, I got better pictures).  That is hard to do, just chance.  By this time most tornadoes being sighted were north of I-90 with only one sighted south of I-90 some distance.  So with this break, we decided to head on west toward home and slipped on through just fine.  We are thankful. 

It was a time of concern, but we got some beautiful pictures especially as we were coming out from under the black sky and seeing the sun setting.  We got pictures of Mammatus Clouds just after leaving the storm behind.  Much damage was done in Albert Lea (and throughout the state) and one killed (three lives lost in the state and many injuries).  One tornado was sighted above Fairmont (the town we are working) and hail of various sizes (from pea size to 4” orange size as seen on TV).  Home sweet home only had to endure strong winds and rain, but was clear by the time we got back.

By the way, let us know if any of you would like to receive a few pictures from time to time from us.  I send out 4 or 5 at a time.  They can be seen right on the email.  I can add your email to the list of friends and family for photos.  Briefly: had to take shelter on 6-25 and 26 from tornado warnings; got pictures of lightning.