Arkansas Spring = Tornadoes

So if you pay attention to the national weather you know we’ve been getting severe storms down here in the south.  About a week ago we got some crazy, intense wind and this is what it did to our fence

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This is just what the wind did.  The fence posts have been snapped and since I took this picture that other panel has fallen.  Monday I was sitting in front of the computer minding my own business trying to type a final paper for class, when my brother came in letting me know the tornado sirens were going off.  I’d heard the siren but was so concentrated on my paper I kept thinking it was an ambulance or a cop car.  The sirens ended up sounding not once, not twice, not three times, but FIVE times in a 3 – 3 1/2 hour span because that’s how many tornadoes/possible formulating tornadoes there were.   And all of them followed the same path through the state.

I spent the next three hours watching stuff like this on the TV

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I happen to live in Conway located in the middle of the screen.  As you can see one tornado skirted around the north part of the town.  At the same time that was happening, that tornado forming to the south ended up making it’s way up going between Conway and Mayflower and it was this tornado that demolished the town of Vilonia just to the east of Conway.  To give a little perspective on distance, Vilonia is within 10 miles or so from my house.

I took video on my phone with the intent of posting it on here but it won’t upload (go figure).  But it was video so you could hear the sirens sounding and the announcement telling everyone to go inside.  What you can’t really tell from the video is how greenish yellow the sky was and how eerily calm and silent everything was.

The other video I took was showing the street right in front of my house and how flooded it became in a matter of minutes.  This was due to the tornado passing over us and on its way to Vilonia.  I did manage to snap a couple of pics though

I’ve seen plenty of photos showing the aftermath in Vilonia and further south in the Hot Springs area that was also hit extensively by tornadoes and all I can say is we were so fortunate at my house to not experience more damage than a fallen fence.  I know a handful of people that got hit pretty hard and lost extensive amounts of their home and property.  Here are some shots that I got from friends or from the Arkansas Severe Weather page:

Last night we had severe thunderstorms and the sirens went off again but as far as I know, there wasn’t anymore extreme damage done.  I thought we had seen the last of it last night but as I left work an hour ago this is what I saw

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To the east it looks like a perfectly nice and almost sunny day.  To the west it’s dark and creepy.  I ended up driving home in a torrential downpour but it has since stopped raining.  It’s overcast and the wind is blowing really hard but maybe this really is the last of it.  I hope so.

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Toad Suck Daze

Every year there is a three day celebration in my town called Toad Suck Daze.  Where did the name come from you ask?  Well the story goes like this:

The legend behind Toad Suck is that long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock & Dam now spans the river near Conway. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern. The dismayed folks living nearby were heard to say: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend lives on at Toad Suck Daze.

But why they have a celebration named this in the first place, I have no idea.  An excuse for a party I guess.  And the really weird thing is that the first Toad Suck Daze was only celebrated in 1982.  So it’s not like it’s some old tradition dating so far back no one can remember why it’s still around.  Nope, only 28 years old.

It’s free admission and is for everyone except, well me.  Friday and Saturday night really belong to the Jr. high/high school kids, Saturday morning is for the kiddies to come out and race their toads and do a little face painting, Saturday afternoon and Sunday are for the *ahem* old folks and those into crafts, and the music every year is heavily influenced by the country genre.  Of which I’m not a big fan.  Plus every year without fail, it rains Toad Suck Daze weekend.  Needless to say I haven’t been since high school.

As a matter of fact, the weather was pretty severe this year.  I’m sure you’ve heard of all the tornadoes that swept through the state that flattened some towns and took the lives of a few people.  I was in Illinois for the weekend and happily missed out on all the excitement.

Though I missed the actual Toad Suck Daze celebration, all the preschool kids brought toads from home to race at school Thursday morning.  Talk about chaos.  When I showed up kids were all in a frenzy wanting to show everyone their toads.  Already two had either jumped out of an open box or had been taken out and then dropped, and were on the loose under the couch.

The madness continued outside as we began to race.  Some kids wanted to race but wouldn’t hold the toads, some kids wouldn’t put the toads down when they were finished racing, and all of the toads took every opportunity for freedom as they all scattered in different directions when placed on the starting line.  Imagine 17 preschool kids and 10 toads in an area that looked to be about 5 ft. squared.  There was a moment where a toad was actually dropped by one of the kids on the head of another.  I swear it couldn’t have been scripted better for a Little Rascals movie.  Talk about insanity.  But hilarious at the same time.

Maybe next year I’ll attend and blog first hand about what I see.  Maybe even include some pictures.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s something for me there after all.