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Wild Weather

Last Saturday, I went to Louisiana to get Jacob for Christmas.  I knew it was supposed to be raining, but I wasn't at all thrilled to find that it was raining the entire way there.  There were long stretches of the trip where visibility was down to about 100 ft.

Once I got to Jacob's house, it wasn't bad at all.  It was 73 degrees, a full 40 degrees warmer than Missouri, and the rain was down to a slight drizzle.

We got him loaded up and we hit the road about 3:15.  We were just pulling into the south side of Ruston, Louisiana when it got very dark very fast.  My phone started blowing up with a tornado warning telling us to take shelter immediately.  And, it wasn't kidding.  No sooner than I got the phone back in my pocket, the top of a large tree broke off and landed right in the highway about 100 yards in front of us.  A diesel Chevy that it landed in front of wasn't able to avoid it and smashed it into a mess of debris.  Two other cars traveling right along side the truck ran over parts of it, as well.  All three vehicles almost simultaneously darted off the highway in separate directions.

I straddled the smallest pieces of branches and flew into town looking for somewhere to take shelter.  Another large tree limb blocked the road ahead of us, and I spotted a Chinese restaurant that was open to our right.  As I jerked the car into the parking lot, I told Jacob to run inside as soon as I got the car stopped.  We both got inside the restaurant and out of the increasing speed of the winds just in time for the power to go out.  We were all sort of standing there watching the windows when the front door got sucked open briefly only to be slammed back closed by the wind.  The owner locked the doors to keep it from repeating.

I now know what all those people on the news after a tornado are talking about when they say, "It came out of nowhere."  It was 3:27 when we rounded a bend in the highway and could see Ruston up ahead while we noticed a peculiar dark sky to our left, the west.  The weather alert came through my phone at 3:28.  And everything I described above happened before I called Jodi from within the safety of the restaurant, a call that my phone logged at 3:30.

It was pretty wild.  But, just as quickly as the storm arrived, it equally as quickly calmed back down.  The weather map from my phone showed a bright red cell that was now east of us, so we got back out on the road.  Half the town of Ruston was out of power, including the stop lights.  Two buildings over from the restaurant we took shelter in had a large pane glass window broken out.  And, we could see all the duct work hanging down from the ceiling inside.  There were lots of tree limbs down and many signs had been blown over and were laying in parking lots or along the sides of the street.

Evidently, what we witnessed later became a tornado that destroyed the front of a Books-A-Million book store and damaged several other buildings in Monroe which is about 25 miles due east of Ruston.

I'm glad to have made it back without any major issues and just minor drama.  I'm thankful for all the prayer from our friends and family who were notified of our situation.  It certainly was heard as the rest of the trip was a piece of cake, a welcome change from the incredibly wet trip down.  This YouTube video is an overly-dramatic group of storm chasers who appear to have watched the movie Twister too many times, but parts of the video do accurately depict what was going on weather-wise where we were.  It also has a small clip of some damage in Monroe.

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