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Out On The Mudline

By W. P. Sissell

I guess I should start this by saying, “Well, we dodged the bullet again.” There have been some close calls.  I experienced my first close call in the late thirties when O’tuckalofa School was demolished.  We, Mr. Raymond Clowney’s busload of children, spent that one in the SisCro service station in the south end of town, in the bus, in the grease rack room (my uncle, Earl Sissell, and Mr. Crowsen owned the station).  

I think that was my first year in high school so it must have been 1940.  That extreme low pressure area was following  O’tuckalofa Creek bottom but didn’t enter the bottom before the turn toward the creek’s origin.

About ten years later, the late forties, one came into the bottom where the Mud Line crossed O’tuckalofa Creek. I missed this one because it was not the weekend—Wesson Brister and I were living in (I think) 343 Main at Mississippi State—we were always at home on the weekend.  I remember my father saying, “I was awakened by the sound of a train and wondered what a train was doing out here in the country, but as I got my foot in my  second shoe the front roof disappeared and we were drenched with rain.  

That one was coming from the northwest.  It hop-scotched across our fields, flipping a little cotton pen upside down, before it crossed a cut of pine woods in the edge of the hills, downing several thousand feet of timber then disappearing into the cloud from whence it came.  Many of those trees were “wind shook”(the tree had been twisted enough that a sliver several feet long could be pulled out of the log) which meant that the log was unfit for saw timber.  The Corps of Engineers gave us permission to remove the downed timber.  

Around the House

Apparently the structure of the old house was not very sound, for three structures close to the house were left untouched. In the direction from which the storm came a barn was not damaged.  On the north side of the road the house where I grew up, the machine sheds along with the enormous barn and wooden walled silos and Uncle Nace’s house close by were untouched.

What’s Happening

There have been later instances that resulted in equally (I want to say odd but know better) unfathomable happenings that make us want to ask why.      

In Water Valley alone there have been a couple of other storms of the tornado category. The storm of last week was very widespread. On our present farm, a house located atop the watershed dividing ridge, has survived these many years while a barn just south of the house, on the same ridge, lost the biggest part of its roof in an earlier storm. Just a few minutes  ago I heard a woman on TV say, “All the windows on my house are blown out” (she was away from home during the storm [in Memphis]).  

Several of the pictures taken by cell phone have fascinated me.  There’s even one that shows household items floating around in the room.

More than we realize it, when the standard atmospheric pressure is suddenly changed, things don’t behave as we normally expect.  A tornado is that kind of pressure area, extremely low and spinning, which adds centrifugal force to the equation!

Do you ever look at the water leaving your sink and wonder why it spins?  It spins the other way in the southern hemisphere (because of the rotation of the earth).  

Thank you for the many compliments.  Our wish for you is a joyous week and do hear the advice of the National Weather Service.  

You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6 (278) Batesville, MS 38606,, or 662-563-9879

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