Summary: A storm of epic proportions is building in the Midwest and tearing eastward. As Lakewood’s third grade class heads to camp, this epic monstrosity comes barreling towards their home. Can anyone survive? Can also be found here on ff.net.
The storm was epic. That was the only way any newscaster could describe it, even the licensed meteorologists on The Weather Channel. A convergence of systems, three lows in total, meeting in the Midwest. The northern-most storms would ravage Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan, while the lowest reaches would flood central Mexico, ravaging already poor neighborhoods and killing thousands. Such a thing happened in winter, systems stacking across the continent and reaching far south. But that was usually rain or snow, or a combination of both, not severe storms with more power than they had ever seen before.
Scientists were struggling to explain it, namely because data could only tell you so much in the moment in the weather world. All they had to go on were temperature spreadsheets showing that most of the country, despite it being early April, was warm. Texas had already seen upper 80’s, while Atlanta and the rest of the southeast enjoyed high 70’s. The northeast ranged between the low to mid-70’s, and even southern Canada was enjoying above average temperatures.
But the Midwest had seen temperatures soar. Texas was almost 90, and most of the central U.S. was seeing the residual effect. As far north as the Dakota’s, the Midwest saw mid to upper 80’s, record-setting heat.
This was the only explanation. Higher temperatures meant more power for storms, namely because northern Canada was still frigid. Blizzards still formed off the Pacific in Alaska and swept eastward, blanketing the area with snow and ice. If those systems decide to pull south, or if this fragile balance was offset by other powerful systems, hot and cold would meet in an explosive event.
That was their explanation: A system from the Pacific came onshore between Washington State and Oregon and began moving east as another system from further south moved across southern California and the desert states. That system formed the southern cells, producing some of the most powerful cells the weather world had ever seen. The Washington/Oregon system went from Oklahoma up to southern-most Canada, pounding the Midwest.
People were terrified across the country. If you were in the event, you were fighting for your life. Hail stones the size of grapefruits fell in one Colorado town, and a Texas town saw a waterspout form in a flooded Dallas suburb. In normal conditions it would’ve been a tornado, but the area was too flooded, not that this helped in the damage. Homeowners who were already struggling to find higher ground found themselves faced with whipped-around debris, and entire families on rooftops were killed as the tornado/waterspout threw debris onto them or ripped them from their dry spot, skipping them like stones across the flooded landscape.
The people east of the event were glued to their televisions, none more so than the parents in Elwood City. They knew the kids were safe. Maps were brought out and posted online showing where the camp was relative to the most northern cells. While they might get residual rain showers, that was nothing compared to what was headed into Elwood City. City leaders were growing worried, and as the storm approached, the city decided it was in their best interest to shut down everything—schools, government offices, and any private business. Residents were free to make their own choices, but they were greatly encouraged to seek out shelter elsewhere if they could, escaping north. Otherwise they needed to start forming an emergency plan. The storm was coming fast, so decisions needed to be made.
Bitzi refused to leave. Her condo had an upper floor to avoid flooding and a strong storm cellar for tornadoes and other powerful events. She could liveblog the event, which would help take her mind off of Buster. But deep down she made the decision for him: Why should she try to go somewhere else to escape the storm? What if he couldn’t find her? She couldn’t do that to him, so she stayed.
The Crosswire’s took no chances and booked a private jet to take them north to Nova Scotia. They invited the Frensky’s along on Francine’s behalf, knowing Francine would want her parents to do whatever they could to stay safe. After a blistering argument, Catherine was finally able to convince her parents to just do whatever they wanted them to do. So they packed as much as they could and took a limo to the Crosswire mansion, where Bailey loaded their things into a large SUV and took them to Elwood City’s private airfield, where a plane picked up both families and Bailey and flew them to safety.
The Read’s decided it was in their best interest to head out to Grandma Thora’s house to stay with her, not to be any safer but to be together. They felt they might fare better in the country anyhow away from all that asphalt and carved streets that would just make the water rise faster. Besides, Thora had a storm shelter where they did not, so it was an obvious choice. They even took Mrs. MacGrady with them, picking her up before hitting the highway to Thora’s home.
The Morgan’s, Power’s, and Barnes’ saw no reason to leave. Unlike Bitzi they weren’t clinging to their child and their impending return almost a week from now. They just saw no point in going somewhere else where they probably wouldn’t be any safer. Besides, Mrs. Powers needed to barricade the business, boarding up windows and piling sandbags around the doors to keep water out and the glass from breaking. Her husband would prepare the house, and together they would make it through.
Other families decided just to leave. Like many others, they hit the highway heading north, not really knowing where they were going. But going south meant certain death in floods, tornadoes, and other violent weather events. If they went north, they at least had a chance…if they wouldn’t be stuck in traffic when the worst of it hit.