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Life Lessons From A Storm

July 23, 2008

By: Carole Hicks

According to Wikipedia, a storm is any disturbed state of a body’s atmosphere that especially affects its surface, and strongly implies that severe weather is happening.

Storms are characterized by strong wind, thunder and lightning, heavy precipitation (even ice) or wind that transports some substance through the air, such as dust, snow or hail.

Storms are created when a “center of low pressure develops, with a system of high pressure surrounding it. This combination of opposing forces can create winds, and result in the formation of clouds.”

Incidentally, those small, localized areas of low pressure can form from hot air rising off the hot ground, resulting in smaller disturbances such as “dust devils and whirlwinds.”


Yes … that all sounds mighty familiar. That’s what storms are … even the storms in our lives. Somebody, somewhere, along the way was surely a “meteorologist of the soul,” to recognize the troubles and trials of our lives would be like storms.


Some people are really afraid of storms, especially children. Back in the early 1970’s, a series of tornados swept the Southeast and for months and months, every child I knew got scared when a dark cloud rolled in. During that spring of 1974 (I think), I remember the whole family gathering at my aunt’s house because she had a small concrete building for us to take cover. Everyone gathered near that building … except Grandpa. He sat on the porch, rocking and smoking his pipe. Granny pleaded with him to “Stop being stubborn and come down to the building.” But he refused, claiming that “if the Good Lord was going to take him in a storm, that building would not stop Him.”


We stood in front of the building watching the sky, and then Grandpa pointed across the field to where we saw a perfectly formed funnel cloud crawling along the horizon. “It’s coming up the river.” Grandpa said. And he was right … the next day we discovered through the news and word of mouth that a tornado had touched down along the Hiwassee and many people lost chicken houses, barns and yes, trailers. The tornado we saw was probably about ten miles away and we could not hear the mighty roar that is usually associated with it. But, the sky was completely black, and the atmosphere did take on an eerie stillness, even in the midst of the wind. We were soon rushed into the building as it started to rain and then hail. Then that storm was over.


Because storms are a traumatic, they are memorable. I remember another time when I encountered such a storm. My daughters and I had been to Delano to visit their Grandma Poteet. We had started home because it was blowing up a storm and no sooner had we pulled out on the highway than the sky in my rearview mirror turned black. I saw lightning flash and thunder began to roll, and it was like we were being chased by the storm. I was scared. It was coming a downpour behind me, but in front of me it was cloudy but not threatening. The girls saw the storm too and we were all three frightened by it. I started driving faster, trying to outrun it; and we did. Or at least, we made it home where we could get inside. But only minutes later, the skies around our house turned ominous and I was certain that a tornado would touch down. So the three of us got into a closet in the back part of the house and we held each other until the storm passed.


And there was one other incident when I was smack-dab in the middle of a storm. It was my birthday and I was driving to Memphis for a soccer clinic. As I topped Monteagle Mountain, the skies began to gray and the radio stations announced that there was a tornado watch for the middle Tennessee area. It got gloomier and gloomier as I drove into Nashville. Driving around Music City, I remember thinking, “Wonder why tornados never touch down in big cities?”


About twenty minutes later, I’m stuck in traffic on the interstate, somewhere near Dickson, because it is raining so hard that no one can see the road. I remember driving under a bridge and thinking, I should pull over right here and wait. But I didn’t. I just kept creeping along until all traffic just stopped. Suddenly, the rain turned to ping-pong ball sized hail and the sky was completely black. I started to panic, thinking I should get out of the car and lie in the ditch. I opened the door of my car, but noticed no one else was getting out of their cars … no one was running toward the ditch. Grandpa had always said that’s what you should do … but then again, he wouldn’t get off the porch to take shelter from the storm. So I sat there, frozen in fear. There was a roar and rumble and I thought the car was shaking but it may have just been my “atmospheric surface.” It probably lasted about two minutes, but it seemed like thirty. Then it was gone. The torrential rains turned back to a spring shower and traffic started moving again.


About half-hour later, the radio announcer said that a “tornado had touched down in downtown Nashville.” So what’s the rest of the potential life lessons from a storm?


Well, storms happen everywhere … to everyone … and can pop up at anytime, even when you least expect them, or even when you are alert and looking for them. Recognizing the nature of a storm, (a disturbance affecting the surface and situation, but definitely coming from pressure within and without), might help one know what’s actually happening. Being prepared and knowing what to do before the storm and during the storm is also wise.


Here’s counsel from FEMA and the National Weather Service:

  • When a tornado warning is issued  “take cover” in the lowest part or center of the house.
  • IF you live in a mobile home (a portable or unstable dwelling), LEAVE and get to a safe building.
  • When you are outside with no shelter available … lie flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. (hmmm?) But be aware of the potential for flooding. (That was one reason I didn’t want to get out of the car and get in the ditch).
  • DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado, instead leave the car or truck and seek shelter.
  • Oh, and watch for flying debris!




Storms are going to stir up some emotions in your life. They are liable to blow some junk into your thinking, and turn over a few sheds and lawn ornaments. It might be scary and you might not know whether to run and hide or be still and watch it happen. Either way … it’s best not to panic in a storm. Be sober and keep your wits … and whether you are listening to the meteorologists or the Peace Speaker, know where your Strong Shelter is and go there!


On a final note, a friend of mine shared this analogy following a storm this week.


Having awakened early after a night of storms, she looked out her window to see all the dead limbs that were down in her yard and neighborhood. Taking in the results of the fierce winds, she came to this realization: “It’s in the storms of life where God tears away the dead/ugly/bad parts of our lives.” (Robin Conn)


So there is purpose in a storm!





One Comment leave one →
  1. Kaye McGuffey permalink
    April 24, 2010 6:14 pm

    Hey Carole,

    Great post. Some good things to remember and ponder.
    Hope you’re having a wondrous day.
    Love ya!~
    Kaye ❤

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