No, they did not win the lotto.
Sometimes you’ll hear people say something like, “You’re more likely to get struck by lightning than to be something something something’d.” Not sure when we started minimizing being struck by lightning, still seems like a pretty raw deal. But as long as we’re considering what it might be like to survive a lightning bolt to the head, how about what it might take to survive an array of other extreme weather phenomena. Instead of having the intern stand on the roof in a thunderstorm holding a metal rod, we did some research.
What follows are a few real-life accounts of someone else’s courageous survival and our recommendation on what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation—based on no experience or expertise.*
*The Whalebone Weather Bureau is not responsible for any attempts at following this advice. And for the love of god, please do not stand on the roof holding a metal rod in a thunderstorm.
Ellicott City Flood
Ellicott City, MD, 2018
What would you do if your birthday celebration was interrupted by a flash flood that wasn’t expected to happen for another millennium? A sunny Maryland day rapidly turned to 20-feet of water ripping through the streets of Ellicott City, tearing down trees, breaking through storefronts, and washing away SUVs and trucks. Not quite the ideal birthday surprise. The water was rising up the stairs to the second story of the tearoom interrupting the passing out of the cake when the rescue team arrived getting everyone to safety. We’d probably send those guys a birthday cake the next year. They deserve it.
If you find yourself in this situation: It would likely be insensitive to say have a pool party instead, but we’re all thinking it, right?
Dallas, TX, 2019
We’ve all seen the part of Twister where they get sucked up in the tornado and Billy yells, “Hang on!” Great CGI for the ’90s, but what would really happen to you if the winds of a tornado pulled you out of your shelter and your only option was to hang on? A normal Sunday in Dallas went from getting pizza for the Cowboys game to holding on for dear life outside of Little Caesar’s. Sucked through the doorway by 140 mph winds, the only option was holding onto the rim of a truck tire while being repetitively hit by flying debris. A scenario where 30 seconds felt like a lifetime, but luckily the cyclone didn’t take the truck into flight like in the blockbuster. Hey, at least the Cowboys won.
If you find yourself in this situation: Immediately become a New York Jets fan. You’ll immediately lose the will to live and all this will be easier to take. Even the Little Caesar’s.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, 2014
Your vacation to Mexico includes margaritas, tacos, Sammy Hagar and sunsh-a really bad hurricane. Hurricane Odile was projected to veer west and lose strength as it headed back out into the vast Pacific. But, you know what they say: “The weather is unpredictable.” And damn were they right. Making a 90-degree turn in the opposite direction, Odile began picking up the pace and evidently had a bone to pick with Cabo San Lucas. Guests were sheltered in the hotel ballroom while the indoor-outdoor resort got pummeled. Stranded for days, there was no way of communication or transportation and the airport had been completely destroyed.
If you find yourself in this situation: Stockpile. Water, batteries, margarita ingredients, margarita machine, Spanish for Beginners.
Buckeye, AZ, 2016
A nice afternoon horseback ride in a small town just west of Phoenix was interrupted by an average summer thunderstorm rolling in from a distance. Wisely, the decision was made to head back for safety, but just minutes from being back, one of the riders was directly struck by lightning and the other two riders were also knocked briefly unconscious by the force of the blast. When they woke, they saw their friend face down with his body on fire but had no recollection of what had just occurred. Rushed to the hospital and covered in burns, with statistics suggesting the worst, consciousness was regained a few days later. Against pretty much all odds, the lightning struck hard, but the rider prevailed. What we’re starting to wonder now is if any psychic abilities have been acquired.
If you find yourself in this situation: Channel Jim Morrison who had a song about riding on storms like this. Also, are the horses ok?
Springfield, MO, 2020
Out for a casual stroll to pick some mushrooms and planning to head back before the forecasted rain came, when Mother Nature had a bit of a mood swing. Just some rain wasn’t going to cut it that day, and instead, the sky started spitting out ping pong balls of hail as if the ground were a beer pong table. You might run desperately for the car, the hail getting ever larger. Taking blows with 75 mph winds behind them, bruises and broken noses were happening left and right. And as if things couldn’t get worse, the car is stuck in the mud, leaving no option but to try and call for help. Finally, the mother-in-law came to the rescue. Those mushrooms better be magical.
If you find yourself in this situation: Serious question: did you eat the mushrooms before or after the “giant hail?” Lesson, either way: keep your mother-in-law on speed dial.
Lake Placid, NY, 2016
A day-hike in the Adirondacks. The weather called for partly-cloudy skies but didn’t call for fog and a blizzard. Like we said, unpredictable, especially at the top of the second-highest mountain in the state of New York. The fog was so thick the visibility was less than 3 feet ahead. With one wrong step, two hikers were sent plummeting down the snow-covered mountainside landing on top of trees. The weather worsened, got colder, and the snow kept falling. For two days, they shivered alongside one another, doing what they could to stay warm. No food or water leads to hallucinations (no mushrooms were around) but they both agreed the helicopters they heard on their second day as popsicles-to-be were real. Screaming as loud as possible, they were discovered and rescued. The two hikers are still dating to this day-but they prefer to stay on the couch.
If you find yourself in this situation: Security blankets aren’t just for children.