Growing up in Virginia is no different from riding a different roller coaster every week: You never really know what to expect. Located in the mid-Atlantic, Virginians really have the best of both worlds in the east coast, experiencing both the Northeast’s frigid blizzards and the South’s sweltering heat. Therefore, if I were to choose the top five major natural disasters I’ve endured during my lifetime in Virginia, it would be…

1. Brood X (2004)

My aunt and her children decided to visit us from California for the first time in 2004, but little did she know that her first time in Virginia would also be her last. Brood X, also known as the Great Eastern Brood, was the tenth brood of the cicadas invasion in eastern United States. Blind and repugnant, beady red-eyed cicadas would rise from the ground after spending 17 years underground. Let’s just say that I will be out of town when the next brood occurs in two years.

2. Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak (2008)

You know the tornado drills you were forced to participate in at school that no one really took seriously? Well imagine being told by your teacher that you were not allowed to go home during dismissal because there was a deadly tornado outbreak occurring literally outside. With my tiny body crouched over the floor and hands covering my neck, who knew that these drills would come in handy one day?

3. “Snowmageddon” or “Snowpocalypse” (2009-2010)

In my whole lifetime, “Snowpocalypse” was definitely the worst natural disaster I’ve ever endured. Power outages, deaths, cancelled flights, governors declaring states of emergencies in below freezing temperatures… the winter of 2009 to 2010 was not one to be reckoned with. I couldn’t even open the front door without the assistance of a snowplow. Two weeks of cancelled school may seem like heaven to those who have not endured the wrath of “Snowpocalypse,” but to those have endured the wrath know that it wasn’t as heavenly as it appeared to be.

4. Hurricane Irene (2011)

As if “Snowpocalypse” wasn’t enough, 2011 in the East Coast was also known as the year when Hurricane Irene occurred. Flash flooding, closed roads, more power outages… My English teacher at the time had shown us a picture of her house smashed into half by a large tree that had fallen as a result of the tropical cyclone.

5. Earthquake (2011)

2011 was quite a tumultuous year. According to the Scientific American, it was said that Hurricane Irene might have triggered the 5.8 earthquake aftershock that occurred later during the summer. Unlike California, Virginia is not typically known for having earthquakes, which is why I did not actually believe that an actual earthquake had occurred until THREE HOURS LATER when my cousin in California had called me, due to the fact that I attributed the rumbling to the new renovations taking place at my school at the time. Oops.

Now I’m not deliberately trying to scare the wits of anyone who plan on traveling to Virginia or any part of the east coast anytime soon, but I have to say that growing up in Virginia has definitely been a wild but interesting experience to say the least. It has taught me how to adapt to rapidly changing weather conditions, and as result, I am more open-minded about living in different areas with drastically different climates. Therefore, as ironic as it may be, I am very grateful to have grown up in Virginia.