"It was very wet, we were just driving … and looked up and realised one part of the sky was moving in one direction and another in the opposite direction," he said. "I thought: 'That looks like a tornado!'
We've had a spectacular run of bad weather here in not-so-jolly England. The wettest April ever is, apparently, being followed by the wettest and coldest May ever. Last weekend saw temperatures lower than those on Christmas (Saturday's high here was 46F) and this weekend is predicted to be only slightly warmer. The sun did pop out for an hour or so yesterday afternoon, but I'm pretty sure that's the only time he showed his bright face since May Day.
And there's no end in sight, according to this piece in the Telegraph. I've discovered that when it comes to weather news, the Telegraph is the place to go. The Guardian and The Independent can't seem to be bothered, unless they can tie the bad weather to the Tories in some way, while the BBC website has sparse content compared to the national newspapers.
But for some reason, the conservative Telegraph seems to be as preoccupied by the weather as I am. Perhaps that's because many of their readers live in the countryside and are old, and everyone knows old people have nothing more to talk about than the weather.
Since I live in the countryside, sort of, and am old, sort of, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time gazing at the Met Office radar page, wondering just when and where the big blue blobs will strike.
A few weeks ago I planted grass seed. Our lawn is looking really straggly, what with the drought we're having—that's right, a drought! That's one of those words that doesn't quite mean the same thing here as it does in America. Last year had about 5 inches off the normal yearly rainfall of 32 inches (as near as I can tell, having made rough conversions from mm to inches in my head). Which still gives us about three times the yearly average rainfall of New Mexico. Yet we're in the midst of a two-year drought and are now, despite record rainfall in April, living under a hosepipe ban.
It's mindboggling. I wish I knew exactly why we're having so much rainfall, but when I read stories like the one in the Telegraph, all I see is that the "unsettled" weather will continue.
Where's the low pressure? How many millibars? Any high pressure in sight? And what are the chances, in percentages, that I'll see rain between 2 and 3 pm? In other words, where's the science and specificity we Americans are used to in our forecasts? Are all the meteorologists busy tweeting for the Met Office?
And what's this about a tornado in Oxfordshire, filmed by a couple in their car as they "pretty much drove right through it"?
Forecasters believe the tornado was caused by a "supercell" storm — a weather phenomenon more common to the US than the UK — in which the air in the storm spins.
"In which the air in the storm spins." That's The Guardian, talking to its readers as if they're three-year-olds.
I don't think the word "tornado" means what you think it means, either. You don't drive through the "spinning air" of a tornado; you get the hell out of the way, and if you don't have a storm celler, you start praying, regardless of the fact you're a Guardian-reading heathen.
But I must confess, I'm to blame for the unsettled wet weather we've had. You see, I had the audacity to order new garden furniture in April. It's still sitting in my garage, in boxes, waiting for summer, since spring, apparently, is skipping 2012.
On the other hand, my grass seed is coming along quite nicely, despite the hosepipe ban. If only I could figure out how to wash my muddy wellies without a hosepipe—because I'm sure my nosy neighbour would rat me out if I pulled out my watering hose, even for a few minutes.
I suppose I could tell them I'm American, and the word "hosepipe" doesn't mean the same thing in my language.