So many times along this journey, we've been told to just relax and let "nature take it's course." Last night, we got to see first hand exactly what this looks like.
Dave and I and his parents had a wonderful meal in the beer garden at Fiddler's Hearth in downtown South Bend. The food was fantastic and we had front row seats to a wonderful display of nature. The rain came pouring down, the lighting flashed and thunder pounded around us, and yet there we were, dry for the most part, underneath a sheltered patio area wedged between two tall brick buildings. Normally I would probably have freaked out at this, but I figured if the lightening struck, it would hit the buildings, not us. And I was right. One stuck pretty much right above us. That was interesting. When we checked the radar on my mother-in-law's phone, we saw that we had a Tornado watch until 1am. Okay, well, we'll keep an eye out. Then the rains picked up and we weren't staying dry anymore in the beer garden so we went inside and Dave caught a ride with a friend I'd run into at the restaurant to go get our car. While waiting in front of the restaurant for him to bring the car around, I was enjoying watching the storm when I noticed that the clouds were moving quickly in two different directions. Then I noticed a part above downtown that was rotating in a circular motion. It was manifesting dark clouds, pulling them up, out of thin air where no clouds seemed to exist. What the heck? Was this a tor..??? A few seconds later, I had my answer. Yes, Suzy, this was in fact a funnel cloud...and it was big.
Why I didn't take a picture, I have no idea, we had "front row" seats and it would have been a great shot. But at the time, my only thought was to call Dave and get him to safety. It appeared that the funnel was moving away from us, but with those pesky things, whoever knows. Anyway, this was the fourth funnel cloud I've seen in my life and by far the biggest. To get an idea, take a Solo Cup plastic cup and hold it in your hand at arm's length. That gives you an idea of how big it was to the naked eye. It was truly impressive. It didn't touch down that I could see, but rather just moved Southeast over downtown.
I've looked all over the Internet and apparently no one else thought to photograph it either. The closest I can get is this. This person had a similar vantage point as us, and seems to have captured the end as the funnel lifted back into the clouds (since the caption says it was taken during the sirens and what we saw was at least 5 minutes before the sirens went off).
"Let nature take it's course." I've gotten tired of hearing that over the years, but I guess what I learned from this experience last night was, "Pray, do all you can to stay safe, and then just sit back and enjoy what unfolds. It might not be what you expected but it could powerful, awe-inspiring, and beautiful just the same."