This weekend would have been the Nebraska State Track and Field Meet in Omaha at Burke Stadium.
It would have been a wet one out there on Friday and I have to wonder if they would have been able to get all the events in with all the rain. There have been several times over the many years I have covered the state meet where rain made things miserable, especially when you are trying to keep several thousands of dollars of camera equipment dry and working throughout the weather conditions.
This would have been one of those times where taking pictures would have been a challenge as well as trying to keep up with documenting results.
It does not sound much better for Saturday and of course severe weather is predicted for our area.
I had a meet official tell me one time as long as there is no lightning, rain alone may pre-empt some of the events, but they would more than likely be held.
It may have been last year that I went to the state meet on Saturday and the local weather was calling for a round of severe weather to hit the Omaha area about the time the final event (4x400 relay) was scheduled to start.
The bad weather held off however until later that night and we all arrived home safely.
I think over the years that severe weather on the way home has played a significant role several times. There was one year when we actually watched a tornado set down to the north of Interstate 80 several miles and other times where I wasn’t sure we should even be on the road.
One Saturday afternoon, my family with me, we left Burke Stadium under threatening skies and made it to Lincoln when we decided to pull off and eat dinner at Dairy Queen.
Once we were finished we were planning to get back on the road and head west, but the latest weather report was telling us that was not a good idea.
We ended up going to my wife’s uncle’s house where we rode out a pretty good storm. Strong winds, some hail and several funnel clouds sighted in the area. We eventually made it back to Benedict, but we still drove home in a pretty good storm.
Another time was even more hair-raising.
I was alone and probably 10 miles from the York exit when I heard that familiar severe weather alert tone and knew by the look of the skies I was probably driving right into this storm they were about to tell me about.
Sure enough this is what I heard; the National Weather Service in Hastings has issued a tornado warning for western York County until whatever time it was. Local law enforcement has confirmed a tornado on the ground one mile north of Sutton moving to the north-northeast.
At this point I was trying to judge if I could make it to York before I ran smack into this thing. In my head I was trying to visualize a map to see if this storm was heading directly towards York or what.
As I closed in on the York exit, it was so dark that you had to have lights on to drive and it was not even 7 p.m.
I turned off the interstate and this was before the by-pass so I had to go through York in order to get back to HWY 81 and make my way the final eight miles north to Benedict.
It was the most hair raising eight miles I have ever driven.
In that eight mile stretch the weather alert went off twice and both times it was because of the severe weather in the area, and of course I was right in the middle of it.
As I drove west into Benedict I could hear the sirens going off and as I turned the corner to my house I saw my wife and kids heading to the church because we have no basement.
I had been gripping the steering wheel so tight that my hands were cramped.
I miss not being able to cover state track this year, but I don’t miss those many scary drives home that seem to accompany state track weekend.
I hope all of you have a great Memorial Weekend and stay safe if you are traveling.