One day ago, a long cloud formation had approached the east coast, seemingly appearing out of nowhere and stumping meteorologists on how quickly it had formed. The clouds stretched past the U.S.-Canada border, and fell beyond the tip of Florida; the weather radar was showing nothing but a wide, jagged strip of deep greens, yellows, reds, and pinks. The news stations had started off broadcasting images of the storm once it made landfall, showing a curtain of gray water falling from it and completely obscuring anything lost within the downpour.
However, overnight the rest of the states lost contact with everyone from the east coast as the clouds rolled along west. The eastern stations broadcasted only static, and all of the news updates and social media posts suddenly just…stopped. Everyone else toward the west figured that the storm had knocked out power lines and cellphone towers, and even disrupted satellite communications.
Any live videos of the massive storm automatically uploaded to the Internet showed nothing but distorted images with broken audio, if there was any at all; it was obvious that the storm dumped gallons of rain per second, and produced an electrical storm that looked like something from a strobe light party. The combination of this all would surely disrupt technology and communications momentarily, right?
I now sit on the couch as I watch the local news anchor report about the storm that currently hangs over their station’s building in downtown Denver. She remains as professional as she can, but her voice reveals an increasing sense of panic as she reads from the teleprompter. She mentions that government officials advise everyone to stay indoors, and then goes on to talk about the attempts that fellow correspondents have made to report from within the storm, only to lose communication once they had traveled inside of it. Then she mentions something I’ve never heard of called the “Emergency Alert System,” and how the president will be making an important speech in ten minutes. The stage lights above her dimly flicker, and strangely the wind can be heard from outside of the building, but it sounds…odd. I can’t quite describe it. Moments later, the news channel’s audio disappears.
My dad suddenly forces himself inside the house through the front door, startling me from the hypnotizing news report. “Grab what you can. We’re leaving now,” he says without even looking at me, rushing past the TV screen which now shows only a title card that reads: Channel 9 News is currently experiencing technical difficulties. We apologize for the inconvenience.
“What’s going on?” My question remains ignored.
I curiously walk to the front door that my dad had left open in a panic. The other residents of the neighborhood have abandoned their homes to occupy the streets, all fixating in the direction of the storm that hangs over the city. A strong wind blows toward the west from the storm, its moans and howls a fluctuating sound of high and low pitches; ever-changing, like layers of wind stacked upon one another; a sound that I’ve never heard before.
I stand with my fellow neighbors and stare at the supercell that slowly engulfs downtown Denver in a wall of gray rain. The colossal clouds tower up high into the earth’s atmosphere and stretch far across the land until they kiss the horizon. Balls of lightning pulsate from within the dark gray storm like bombs exploding in battle, but there is no thunder.
The wind grows louder as the storm moves closer toward the neighborhood. I see families crying to each other as they jump in their cars, and tires screech as more and more people begin to evacuate the area. Those recording the spectacle start to back away cautiously, their phones hanging limply in their hands.
The storm seems to pick up speed, and the wind grows louder and stronger.
“Stacey, get in the car!” My dad screams at me from the front door. I hear him, but I don’t look at him. I never take my eyes off of the storm as I slowly back away from it. The dark, almost-black base of the supercell rolls out from beneath itself as the cloud billows toward the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
The howling wind bounces off of the jagged mountains and whirls around me, bubbling my skin up into goosebumps. No, it isn’t from the chill of the wind, nor the droplets of sprinkling, cold rain that start to splash onto my skin. It is from the sound of the wind, and how much more distinct it becomes as the peak of the clouds begin to crest over the neighborhood.
I realize that it's not the wind I've been hearing. I finally turn and flee as my dad’s frantic calls to me become lost from the millions of people caught in the storm, screaming.