the route of the North Platte river across Nebraska I was pursued by an
ominous black cloud which occasionally sparked with lightning flashes.
I had managed to camp the whole trip except for Salt Lake City and
didn’t want to spoil my record now so headed for Crystal Lake camping
place on a dirt road near the town of Ayr.
It was dusk when I turned off the blacktop and heard behind me an
urgent blast on a horn. A
fire department truck pulled up along side me.
“Crystal Lake’s a nice place to go, but maybe not
tonight. We’ve had a tornado warning.
You can stay at our station until this is all over”.
parked the bike in the station next to a fire truck while the volunteer
crew assembled in response to the warning.
The sky to the West was now strobing with almost continuous
lighting and the television weather station was broadcasting satellite
computer maps of the storm with a commentary by the weatherman.
Suddenly he paused, his head inclining forward as a message came
over his earpiece.
“We have a tornado on the ground near Holstein!
If you live in the area get in your storm shelter NOW!
If you don’t have a storm shelter go to the most secure room in
your house. Do it now, it could save your life!”
name Holstein rang a bell and I looked at my map. I had driven through it 12 miles west of here.
Suddenly the trunk of the tree opposite the fire hall turned
horizontal as fierce winds hit and torrential rain and hail came down.
Then the power went out. The
generator was started and the weatherman said,
“Tornado on the ground near Roseland”- eight
were still standing in the part open roller doors of the station watching
the storm. I was thinking,
“Don’t these things just drop out of the sky without warning? Shouldn’t we be taking cover?”
The fire engine looked pretty heavy and I had decided to get under
it and hold on to the exhaust pipe if anything happened. Then I realized that the big, strong farm boys who made up
the crew probably relished the experience.
Fighting storms and wild broncos was probably how they got their
Let’s see what y’got”.
The chief manning the radio said ,.
“The satellites down. They’re
relying on us now”.
were no more touch downs in our area that night but the rain continued in
torrents. The fire fighters
went off to clear a tree from a ditch.
When they came back they said,
“Well, you can’t go anywhere tonight.
We’ll put up a cot for you here to sleep.
Help yourself to a soft drink from the fridge and let yourself out
in the morning”
watched Jay Leno on the TV, then turned in for a surprisingly peaceful