The Brothers’ Grim Tornadoey Tale: Surviving the Storm



Twas a perfect day. My brother, Eric, and I ventured off into the woods to get some much needed exercise and “dirt time.” At least 8 miles from town, we busted through the thorn riddled path and pushed our way into a clearing. After a couple hours of trekking, we took a much deserved break in a colosseum of trees. The radiating sun basked us in a blanket of warmth, fighting off the mild breeze.

After gorging on protein bars and guzzling down several ounces of water, we made our way to the river to fill up our canteens and practice wilderness skills. (Yes, we did purify the water!) While enthusiastically carving, we bickered back and forth about who was the better woodsman, obviously me, and decided we should finish up. Gathering our gear, we glanced upwards and noticed a darkening sky with large, shadowy, low-lying clouds. The harmonious chirping of the birds fell silent, and the once gentle wind current began to pick up.

Founded upon nature’s evidence, like a bushcraft Sherlock Holmes and Watson, we deduced a storm was coming. In any survival situation, one’s level of wilderness education, understanding of the environment, and readiness to evacuate will aid in increasing chances for a safe return home. In our case, a nasty storm raced towards us. Only a short minute later, our phones squawked with storm warnings, and in the faint distance, we heard the siren sounding a tornado alarm.

Based on our surroundings, we were not safe. The low elevation of the river coupled with matted down foliage and debris in the trees suggested we rested in a flood plain. The river, already swollen from previous rainfall, risked overflow. Likewise, the area was a hodgepodge of tall timber, hilly terrain, and dead trees. This environment placed us at a disadvantage during a storm, as the tall trees invited lightning strikes. Likewise, the elevated topography, we needed to hike back up, suggested rain water would flow towards us. Moreover, lifeless trees could have crashed down during a heavy gust. As the thunder roared and the sky sparked, a plan of escape was vital.

Facing possible flooding, storms, and a tornado, our first point of order was to protect core body temperature. With wind picking up, temperatures dropping, and eminent rainfall, we needed protection from the elements. Both of us carried moisture wicking fleece jackets and ponchos. These lightweight, easily packed jackets helped pull perspiration away from the body, while retaining body heat. The over-sized ponchos prevented a soggy walk home.

The next step addressed the potential flood