Monday, November 18, 2013

The hounds of hell descended upon us.

We both love Chicago. It has wonderful architecture and good restaurants - and a sensational art gallery.
It was an absolute doddle getting there for me on Thursday. I barreled along the Interstate listening to music for three hours. Absolute Bliss. 
Cate subscribes to a satellite radio service called Sirius – so she can choose from about 100 channels of all types of music wherever she goes. My favorite is of course Bluegrass – because I am a country boy at heart – and she of course listens to classical music.
So on this occasion I had the radio to myself and listened to Bluegrass for the entire trip.
As we were leaving the hotel in downtown Chicago the tornado warning sirens sounded. We know they were tornado warnings because some people in the lobby saw our puzzled looks and told us so.
That’s silly we thought – they don’t have tornados in Autumn.
When we left the hotel we set the navigation system and it went completely haywire – so we got hopelessly lost in downtown Chicago – and all the while the tornado warning sounded on our radio.
After rebooting it twice the system settled down and we got onto the Interstate – and then after 10 minutes the hounds of hell descended upon us.
We found ourselves in the middle of a tornado - with rain so heavy we could not see more than 20 meters and wind so strong it was blowing the car sideways.
If we could have stopped we would have – but we were on the Interstate – and could not see the sides of the road – and while we were traveling at 20 mph with our hazard lights blinking – along with most other people - crazy people in gigantic SUVs were hammering past us. We knew that if we could find the side of the road – and stopped there – we would almost certainly be crushed by one of these giants – the drivers of which could not possible see where they were going.
The constant text messages on our iPhones said ‘Tornado warning – take cover immediately!’
We did the only thing we could under the circumstances – became hysterical.
Cate was driving. She had her nose pressed to the windscreen and drove along shouting ‘I can’t see anything’.  I comforted her by shouting ‘Neither can I’.
After about 40 minutes – it seemed longer – the rain eased and then stopped. After a further half hour we came to a complete stop in a gigantic traffic jam – and stayed put for 3 hours. We think a truck was blown over by the wind and completely blocked both lanes of the Interstate.
The three hour trip home to 7 hours. But we lived to tell the tale.Next time we hear a tornado warning siren we will know exactly what to do – and it will not involve driving.   


  1. Yeah, as I recall there were a few when I was in Indy too. We only had the high winds here in Detroit. Odd, but lately we have been having thunderstorms and lighting in the winter. Glad you both made it out safe.

  2. I've lived in Tornado Alley for 13 years and I've never come that close. So glad you two are okay!

  3. Ah Phillip, you two never do things by halves! Glad you are both safe. Didn't realise that it was that close to you.

  4. fmcgmccllc: We will know w hat to do next time I hear the Tornado warning.

    SK Waller: That's amazing - I imagined you would have had a number of close shaves.

    Liz: It did an astonishing amount of damage in Illinois and Indiana.