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Gill: Weather is what happens when you’re making other plans

POSTED: March 26, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Like many across Hall County and Northeast Georgia, Times education reporter Jeff Gill had his normal Saturday routine interrupted by the line of storms which moved through the area. He shares his experiences, which likely mirror what many of you went through Saturday.

Hiding behind the cooler of egg cartons at the Kroger store isn't my idea of family fun.

And neither is trying to determine our next course of action while TV weather forecasters spell doom from that square box in our family room.

Funnel clouds, no. Funnel cakes, yes.

But family life is unpredictable - as is the weather, particularly in Georgia in early spring.

And we had made our plans for Saturday: Go to the library and do a little shopping at the Mall of Georgia.

My son needed some pants for school, and we needed to look at exchanging a prom dress for my daughter.

Ordinary stuff. And then came the weather reports.

Tornadic activity was firing up in West Georgia and headed our way - due east, the forecasters said. That put our home in Flowery Branch in the direct path.

OK, time to adjust. The family discussions began. Do we go to the library? No, let's just renew the books by phone.

I campaigned a while for the Mall of Georgia. No, too much time on the road.

How about Kroger? Not far from our house and we needed the groceries. Plus, it got us away from television reports that had so far consumed the day.

It wasn't an easy sell for my wife - she wanted to ride out the weather from home - but she relented and we headed down Spout Springs Road.

All was OK for a while, but then cell phones - including ours - starting going off.

Shoppers were hearing from family members that tornadoes had been spotted in the area and we needed to take cover.

Management also picked up on the reports and announced we should leave the front of the store, with its big windows, and go to the back of the store.

So, we did, planting ourselves between the eggs and the milk.

After a while, the storm apparently had passed, as store employees said we were free to roam the store again.

We headed straight for the check-out, where our cashier scanned the goods like he was trying to set a speed record, and then headed for home.

When we arrived, we placed our grocery bags on the kitchen floor and snapped on our old friend, the TV. More weather reports, but worse this time.

Hailstorms, lightning strikes everywhere, tornado sightings - and they were coming our way. By this time, my nerves were way past jangled.

My wife cleaned out the closet under the stairs. Usually, that space is reserved for blankets, board games and boxes of this and that. But come tornado time, it's our shelter.

Our kids huddled there while we did some other things, such as look out the back door and study the skies. Hearing the tornado siren added to our excitement.

The storm arrived, featuring winds, rain and a good pelting by marble-sized hail. And then it passed.

I went outside and collected a few pieces of hail that had littered our front yard. I went inside to my kids, still in the closet, and we had a short show-and-tell over those icy bits. The kids seemed amused, and so did I.

Family fun had returned.

But the next time I go to the closet, I'd rather be pulling out a game of Sorry or Monopoly, not diving for cover with my loved ones.

Jeff Gill covers education for The Times. He and his family live in Flowery Branch.




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