This weather has got me spooked. All these tornado watches, warnings and touchdowns are getting to be a little much for me.
They didn't used to bother me so much. In fact, I'd always thought that if I could see one way out in a field somewhere, where it couldn't hurt anyone or tear anything up, that I'd like to go with the stormchasers and see one in person.
A little over a month ago, I went to see my grandmother in Caledonia, Miss. A month before that, they'd had a tornado go right through the middle of town. I believe it was an EF3, which means winds up to 165 miles per hour.
I got to see firsthand the aftermath of Mother Nature at her worst.
Pictures don't do it justice. Video doesn't do it justice. You really don't get the real picture unless you stand there on one side of town and look back down the path one of these monsters took.
A half-mile-wide bulldozer. That's what I thought it looked like had gone through my granny's hometown - within a few hundred feet of her house, by the way. The look in her eyes when she told the story of watching it go by combined with the tour we took of the destruction was enough to tell me I don't ever want to be anywhere near one of these things.
I saw where houses had been completely erased from the face of the earth, nothing but concrete slabs left. I saw 100-year-old oak trees, bigger around than I can reach, snapped in half like toothpicks. A tractor turned upside down in a field. An old tin shed, twisted into a circle, like it had been on the end of an airplane propeller. Cars and trucks that looked like they'd been in a cement mixer. Pieces of houses and mobile homes twisted around the tops of trees - it's just unbelievable what these things can do.
I saw the mobile home that was torn apart, throwing a woman and her child into a field across the road. It looked like someone had set a bomb off in it. By some miracle, they survived.
I saw what was left of the school building the Caledonia principal had herded students into. But then he got a bad feeling in his gut and moved them into another building. Granny said it was God punching him in the stomach, telling him to get the kids out of there, and I don't doubt it because if they'd remained in that building, there would have been a lot of dead kids.
It just doesn't seem possible that the wind can bend steel and blow down concrete walls. But it can.
It all scared the bejeezus out of me, and I was there on a bright, sunny day, 300 miles from home.
Ever since, when they've predicted bad weather, I've gotten nervous. And they've predicted a lot lately.
First, a tornado hit Carroll County. Seventy-five miles away from my house.
Then one hit downtown Atlanta last Friday, blowing parts of landmarks away and destroying people's homes in Cabbagetown.
Fifty miles away.
That weekend I had to work, and more bad weather was coming. At one point, I looked out my window in Lawrenceville - 30 miles from my house - and it had started to hail, often a precursor to a tornado. The sky got dark. I started thinking about places to hide.
Then I heard a tornado had hit Polk County and killed two people. Then one was seen near Athens. Just a few miles from my house.
I got home that night and my wife's Durango was covered up in old comforters. I asked her if her truck was cold, but I knew it was really to protect it from hail.
Then more storms came this week. Hard rains, wind. Just as I thought, my nerves couldn't take any more, finally, as I write this, it's nice and sunny outside.
But am I hanging around to enjoy it? Nope. Monday, I'm going back to Biloxi for the first time since 2005. The last time I was there was four days before the worst hurricane in history hit.
At least I can escape Mother Nature for a few days by hiding in the casino looking for a much more elusive woman - Old Lady Luck.
E-mail Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays.