When we lived in California, I often debated the question tornadoes or earthquakes, which is worse. Having experienced both, I had to vote for earthquakes. But, I have never lived through a hurricane. I have been on Cape Cod when the tail of a hurricane came through. It was actually quite beautiful. But, then it was no longer a hurricane and I experienced it from inside a house on top of a hill overlooking the water.
I think the scariest thing about tornadoes is their unpredictability. When we lived in Minnesota, the sirens would sound when a tornado had been sighted. We had a spot in the basement under the stairs that we went to when the sirens sounded. We had bottled water, juice, a flashlight, a battery operated radio, and things to occupy the kids.
I remember vividly how absolutely terrified I was as we sat there waiting for the all-clear. Or, the arrival of a tornado tearing our house apart. But my fear began in early Spring when tornado season began. There were summers when we never went to the basement. Others, we spent more time down there than anywhere else, or so it seemed.
But the fear was there for months. There would be "watches" which means conditions are right for the formation of a tornado. That made my heart race a bit as I mentally did a head count of the kids and where they were. Then there were "warnings". That meant one had been sighted and that's when the sirens blew.
One of the scariest "warning" for me was when I was alone in the house. I knew my husband was okay, he was at work. I knew for sure where two kids were, at soccer practice. But, where was the third one. I didn't know for sure. I can remember my panic as I sat under the stairs hugging our Basset hound and praying. Finally, the kids came home and the siren sounded the all-clear. I was so thankful that we were all safe.
We had an interesting experience in northern Minnesota. We spent a week every June at a resort on one of the 10,000 lakes Minnesota is famous for. One afternoon, a storm came up and we headed for the pier and our cabin. We stood at a big picture window (definitely not what you should do if a tornado is imminent) watching the storm and our boat. My husband was concerned about the boat smashing against other boats. What he was going to do if it did, I have no idea. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary.
What we saw was amazing..a 'waterspout'. A tornado on water. It was shaped very much like a tornado but it was misty because of the water being sucked up. It hit the beach and did some serious damage to several of the cabins. There were huge old trees that were twisted off their stumps and thrown about like toothpicks.
One cabin had it's porch ripped off and tossed several hundred yards away. The pier pulled away from it's mooring and all the boats pulled away from the pier. The way my husband had tied ours sent it in the opposite direction from the others. It had some light scratches but my husband's vigilance at the window had paid off!
Now we live in Vermont where there are no tornadoes, no hurricanes, and only rarely a tiny earthquake. I can live with that.