A favorite author and artist of Melanie was to give a talk at 7 pm at the local bookstore Prairie Lights. Austin Kleon was to talk about his latest book Keep Going. We started driving and tornado sirens started blaring as soon as we got rolling. I stopped to check radar and notices on my phone from the weather service. As a trained spotter, I needed to be aware of the storm conditions. We continued into town pausing at a high spot in the road to assess the sky. Radar showed a very small storm that didn’t seem bad from our vantage-point. But, that can be very misleading. You need to pay attention to them.
We got to the bookstore and sat down. The sirens started up again. My phone and those around me went crazy. The NWS alerts were more ominous this time. Our friend, also a spotter, lives 10 miles southwest of town under the red blob of the radar image. Storms track from that direction. He had reported to the NWS a rotating wall cloud from this little storm only a mile south of him. His picture was a classic of a severe storm that could produce a tornado. It briefly dropped a funnel that broke up.
He continued to watch and got a second picture a minute or two later and about 2 miles farther east. This time a narrow tornado was on the ground heading for our town. Rain made it hard for him to see.
I spoke to the organizer of the bookstore event and showed him the weather alerts. He reluctantly agreed to delay the program for 10 minutes and told people they could go to the lower level for safety. Melanie and I went down. I stepped outside to do my spotter thing and looked south. There was the funnel a mile or two away breaking up as it disappeared. I called the NWS and reported what I saw. We were safe now that the storm had passed.
Several people captured video of the approaching tornado before it broke up.
The speaker started his program a few minutes late. We all enjoyed it very much. It was an exciting end to an interesting day. Later reports showed some minor damages in the area. Here is the link to the NWS investigation of the event. Look for #3 in the list.