Through the windows, I see the sky darken, then turn a sickly shade of green. Rain starts pelting. No, not rain. Rain isn’t that loud. It’s hail. Hail pelts the windows and the roof. A huge clap of thunder sounds so loudly it rattles the windows. Audience members exchange looks, anxiety rippling through the crowd. I move rapidly toward the stage, just in time, because there’s a crash behind me, and I see that the spot where I was standing now holds a baseball-sized hailstone.
“Sage,” Wesley says, hurrying to me.
“Tornado coming,” Tom says under his breath. “Touched down ten miles from here.”
“Stay calm, folks,” Tom stands and yells above the din of the hail hitting the building. “We’re going to open up a storm shelter for you.”
More windows break. People scream and dive under tables. The emergency warning tones blaring from nearly two hundred cell phones are deafening.
~ Sage, Chapter 17, HAVEN
The deafening roar returns, and we all look toward the sound: a funnel cloud hovers above the tree line at the other end of the pasture. I’ve never seen a tornado before and would like to have kept it that way. Still, I’m here. The cloud is visible. There’s nowhere to hide. I don’t know if I will live to show anyone these photos, but I lift my camera to my eye and shoot, shoot, shoot again, as the funnel cloud skims along the edge of the forest.
Hailstones are pelting the cows and they’re bellowing like they don’t understand what’s happening to them. Inside, I’m crying for them, but my mind and body are so trained — finding the shot, noticing the light, pressing the shutter are automatic reflexes. Click, click, click.
Cows, farmers, electric fence, funnel cloud. It turns, moves toward us. This might be the end for all of us. We’re trapped. It’s coming closer and closer…
~ Sage, Chapter 18, HAVEN
Since writing these scenes, I’ve heard from readers who question the possibility of such a dramatic storm occurring. The storm described in HAVEN is called a supercell thunderstorm. It is the rarest form of thunderstorm, so most people outside of Tornado Alley in the United States are unlikely to have experienced one. However, as climate change intensifies, extreme weather events, like supercell thunderstorms, occur more frequently. That means you and I are more likely to witness a supercell thunderstorm in the future than ever before. Common elements of these storms include thunder, lightning, hail, and tornadoes.
The storms themselves are pretty fascinating if you’re interested in meteorology.
To learn more about Supercell Thunderstorms, visit https://www.weather.gov/ama/supercell
or watch this video: https://youtu.be/yvIKIgelY6g