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Whidbey Islanders get a taste of tornado in Oklahoma
Leonard and Linda Good returned home safely to South Whidbey after a harrowing visit to Oklahoma.
The were visiting relatives in Norman, Okla., when the infamous big one hit Monday, about 10 miles away in what is now the devastated city of Moore.
The Goods were caught up in the same drama as everyone else in that part of Oklahoma, watching the skies and the television to find out if a tornado may be coming their way.
From the front porch of where they were staying, the Goods could see the threatening skies, lightning and bright flashes as transformers blew in the distance.
For TV drama, they could watch local reporters.
Linda, a Suzuki-method violin teacher for decades, took notes during the real-life drama. “It’s sucking us in, we’re pulling it away,” shouted a TV reporter from a helicopter.
“Do not think — go!,” a TV anchor told his audience. “Get underground right now!”
“I thought that was great,” said Linda of the job the reporters did. She also took note of, “Tornado on the ground! Killer tornado!”
Leonard took a scientific interest in the cloud formations and resulting tornadoes, as he has been a popular South Whidbey science teacher for years. He is locally famous for his experiments that made learning fun for kids. He published a book of them. Even today when he’s “retired,” kids still come to his house for science lessons.
“We could see the darkness, like in the land of Mordor … and flashing,” Leonard said. He took pictures of “mammatus” clouds. “The sky was covered with them,” he said. “They represent warm air under cold air.” And that can mean trouble.
Leonard also has a personal history with tornadoes. Raised in Oklahoma, he joined others in a shelter when a tornado passed nearby in 1946 when he was six. His dad, a professor at the university, took him to see the damage at an airfield it hit. “There were piles of wrecked airplanes — we had a ball,” he chuckled. In those days, there were no authorities to keep people away.
The Goods drove around and saw a mangled bridge but the wide swath of damaged was largely kept from public view as authorities blocked all the roads.
They went to Oklahoma in May to avoid the hot summer weather. What they got instead was tornadoes.
“I like Oklahoma, but I’m much happier here,” Leonard said.