Tornado Warning: How To Survive A Twister While Married

Put yourself in our position. What would you do? 

My wife and I were driving home from Harrisburg a few weeks ago, coming down Rt. 283 close to Elizabethtown. The sky looked really weird. It wasnʼt quite green, but it also wasnʼt any shade of sky weʼd seen before. The wind was still, unlike the few minutes past. Neither of us are tornado experts, but we were starting to get a little nervous. Whatever was about to happen, we didnʼt want to participate. 

As we tried to figure out which way the wicked weather was moving, both of our cell phones began beeping with the same message. I donʼt recall the exact wording, but it was something like this: 

Tornado Warning – Seek Shelter Immediately 

We have friends that live just outside of Elizabethtown, across the cornfield from Rt. 283. They were out of town for the weekend, and we werenʼt sure if they had gotten home yet or not. With conditions looking scarier and the cell phone warning in my head, I asked my wife to call them. We were only a few miles from their house. 

(Pause here and ask yourself what you think sheʼll say when she calls them.) 

So I kept driving as my wife called and left the following message: “Hey guys- not sure if youʼre back home yet or not but thereʼs a tornado warning in your area so be safe.” 

At that point I was reminded of how my wife and I are fundamentally different. That was not the message I was expecting her to leave! Seeing as we were right near our friendʼs house, with a possible tornado pending, I just assumed that she was going to ask them if we could come hide out in their basement. 

Turns out they didnʼt get the message right away anyhow because they were…..hiding out in the basement without their phones. 

Iʼm not saying my wifeʼs reaction was wrong, but never in a million years would I have reacted the way she did. I was all in for saving myself (and her). Does that make me a selfish or a survivor? Is my wife a saint or a fool? Maybe all of the above. Maybe none. 

As Iʼve told this story time after time to friends and relatives, two things stand out. First, that many people also would have reacted as my wife did, calling to protect their friends and not mentioning their own plight. 

Secondly, both reactions are very strong in that most people donʼt conceive of the opposite response until they hear about it. 

So Iʼm curious. What did you think when you read the story? Did you want to protect yourself first or your friends? Does that say anything important about you? Were you surprised by the opposite reaction? 

In any case, itʼs good to be reminded that sometimes the obvious isnʼt that obvious.

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18 thoughts on “Tornado Warning: How To Survive A Twister While Married

  1. Very good questions to consider. I don’t feel either reaction is wrong. As a wife, and mother it may be part of our natural instinct to think of other’s first. I don’t know just one thought.

    I haven’t had this experience, and I honestly hope I never do. Great thought provoking share! Thank you!

  2. Your wife probably did not feel immediately threatened. Reacted just like I would.

    If they were on the road, you’d end up at a locked house. You were probably on your way to somewhere, so might as well go somewhere. Daylight, still have visibility, nothing immediate to worry about. If I lost situational awareness, then I’d be headed to the nearest shelter even if that meant jumping into a ditch.

    Of course, I’m the guy who would go storm chasing if I still lived in the Midwest.

  3. Too funny!! I would have done what you would have done which is to mention and ask if we could join them but that’s just me 🤪

    1. Yeah- I’m kind of into staying alive and if I need a friend’s house to help me do that- I’m ok with it haha

  4. Such an interesting scenario you pose. I think the fact that she got voice mail changes the whole scenario. If you are leaving a message, why leave something that will put people in a panic when they get it and you don’t know when that will be. But I think your instinct for protecting you both is also totally reasonable.

    But what happened with the tornado?

    1. Interesting point about the voicemail!
      We didn’t see it but when we got home, we found out that a tornado did touch down right around the time of the incident, but it happened several miles away in an area we had driven through about 15 earlier,

  5. As they say during flights, in case of emergency put on your own oxygen mask first and then help the others. That’s how I would react, I protect myself first. Interesting post Todd!

    1. Thanks! Good point about the flights- seems natural to me. You can offer better help to others if you’re safe yourself.

  6. Great post, Todd, and I’m glad that you and your wife are safe! So, my reaction when I read your post? I could relate to both positions. I thought your wife sounds so kind, to be concerned about your friends’ safety; but I also “knew” why you had suggested the call. I actually think that men and women’s apparent differences can work very well together, as long as we learn how to take the best from both and merge them somewhere in the middle.

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