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Meteorological Terminology

For those of you who aren't familiar with tornadoes and are hearing news
coverage of this, I put together a short glossary to help you understand.

Fujita Scale: Scale used to measure wind speeds of a tornado and their

For instance:

Laughable little string of wind unless it comes through your house, then
enough to make your insurance company drop you like a brick.  People enjoy
standing on their porches to watch this kind.

F2: Strong enough to blow your car into your house, unless of course you
drive an Expedition and live in a mobile home, then strong enough to blow
your house into your car.

F3: Will pick up your house and your Expedition and move you to the other
side of town.

F4: Usually ranging from a half to a full mile wide, this tornado can turn
an Expedition into a Pinto, then gift wrap it in a semi-truck.

F5: The Mother of all tornadoes; you might as well stand on your front porch
and watch this one, because it's probably going to be quite a last sight.

Meteorologist: A rather soft-spoken, mild-mannered type of person until
severe weather strikes, and they start yelling at you through the tv:  "GET

Storm Chaser: Meteorologist-rejects who are pretty much insane but get
really cool pictures of tornadoes. We release them from the mental
institution every time it starts thundering, just to see what they'll  do.

Tranquilizer: What you have to give any dog or cat who lived through the May
3, 1999, tornado every time it storms or they tear up your whole house
freaking out of their minds.

Moore, Oklahoma: A favorite gathering place for tornadoes. They like to meet
here and do a little partying before stretching out across the rest of the

Bathtub: Best place to seek shelter in the middle of a tornado, mostly
because after you're covered with debris, you can quickly wash yourself off
and come out looking great.

Weather Radio: A handy device that sends out messages from the National
Weather Service during a storm, though quite disconcerting because the
high-pitched, shrill noise it uses as an alarm sounds suspiciously like a
tornado. Plus the guy reading the report just sounds creepy.

Tornado Siren: A system the city spent millions to install, which is really
useful unless there's a storm or a tornado, and then of course you aren't
able to hear them.

Storm Cellar: A great place to go during a tornado, as it is almost 100%
safe. But, weigh your options carefully, as most are not regularly cared for
and are often homes to rats, mice, spiders, and snakes.

May-June: Tourist season in Oklahoma, when people who are tired of bungee
jumping and diving out of airplanes decide it might be fun to chase a
tornado. These people usually end up on Fear Factor.

Barometric Pressure: Nobody really knows what this is, but when it drops, a
lot of pregnant women go into labor, which makes for exciting moments as
their husbands try to drive them to the hospital and dodge tornadoes at the
same time.

Cars: The worst place to be during a tornado (aside from right next to a
mobile home). Yes, you can outrun a tornado in your car ... unless everybody
else has hit the road trying to do the same thing, and then you're in

A Ditch: Supposedly where you're supposed to go if you find yourself without
shelter or in your car with a tornado bearing down on you.  Theoretically
the tornado is supposed to pass right over you, but since it can lift a
20-ton truck and uproot a 300-year-old tree, I'd rather bet my life on
outrunning it in a car.

Mobile Home: Most people are convinced mobile homes send off some strange
signals that trigger tornadoes, because if there's one mobile home park in a
100-mile radius, the tornado will find it.

Earthquake: What any Californian would rather go through on any scale of
severity than face a tornado.

Tornado: What any Oklahoman would rather go through on any scale of severity
than face an earthquake (or live in California).

Twister: Slang for 'tornado' and also the title to a movie starring  Helen
Hunt, which incidentally everyone thought was corny and unrealistic  ....
until May 3, 1999 in Moore, Oklahoma.

Power Flash: One of the most reliable ways to track a tornado at night, it's
the term used when the tornado hits a powerline or substation and a bright
light flashes. It's also the emotion experienced by meteorologists when they
get to make the call to interrupt prime-time must-see TV and a million
dollars worth of advertising to track a storm for viewers.

Here are some phrases you might want to learn and be familiar with:  "We'll
have your electricity restored in 24 hours," which means it'll be a week.
"Power's going to be out for a week, so buy a lot of supplies and an
expensive generator" means it's going to be on in twelve hours, probably as
soon as you return from Wal-Mart with the needed booty. "It's a little muggy
today." -- Get outta town. It's getting ready to storm. "There's just a
slight chance of severe weather today, so go ahead and make your outdoor
plans." HA HA HA ha ha ha ha....

And the BIG TIP of the day, really: When your electricity goes out and  you
go to bed at night, be sure to turn off everything that was on before it
went out, because when it is unexpectedly restored in the middle of the
night, every light, every computer, your dishwasher, your blow dryer,  your
washing machine, your microwave, and your fans will all come on all at once,

1) You'll just about have a heart attack when they all come on at the same
time, waking you from a dead sleep; And

2) Your breakers will blow, leaving you in the dark once again.
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