Sunday, March 04, 2012


Like a lot of the rest of you, I've been watching, horrified, at the aftermath of the Midwest (and South) tornadoes this past week. I'm just old enough to remember the big tornado outbreak of 1974 in Xenia, Ohio. I grew up in Northeastern Ohio (the opposite side of the state) from Xenia, but it was still a big thing in the news. (I guess the Xenia tornadoes were part of a much larger outbreak, but I remember that day as the Xenia tornadoes, because that was what was in the news. Funny, it was a few weeks after my brother was born and I don't even REMEMBER him being on the scene... I guess he was up in his cradle or something.)

Even though I live now in what's traditionally considered "tornado alley," I remember far more tornado worries as a kid - running to the basement with my parents when the sirens sounded. Some springs, I remember keeping my treasured Snoopy doll (the one thing I felt I would have really been lost without) as close to me as possible (at least when I was at home) so that if the siren sounded, I could grab him and get to the basement (I knew there was no way on Earth my parents would let me run up to my bedroom to get ANYTHING).

I suppose the reason I weathered a lot more tornado warnings during the years of my childhood than the years I've lived here is that tornado forecasting has gotten so much some cases, in metropolitan areas, they can give the intersection of streets nearest the worst of the storm. And radar is a lot, lot better than the grainy, green-and-white radar I remember from my childhood. And all of that is a great blessing and I don't always think people appreciate how much the forecasting of dangerous weather has improved.

But still, in some cases, apparently the best warnings, the most careful behavior when taking shelter can't resist natural forces...My prayers are with the families who lost family members in these tornadoes, and with the people who lost everything and are going to have to try to rebuild their lives. I know everyone says "Stuff is just stuff" and lots of things are replaceable....but some things, like photos and heirlooms, really aren't, and if they're gone, all you can really do is cherish your memories of them.

I hope this is the last we hear of bad tornadoes this spring. I hope the climate patterns this year (it looks like another La Nina year) do not lead to more "extreme" weather events.

1 comment:

Kate P said...

It is incredibly sad. I wonder what will be the turning point in figuring out how to protect homes from tornadoes, and if it will be soon.

Your experience sounds similar to that of a family friend who grew up in Ala.--traumatic memories of getting her sister and brother down to the basement. Living in almost constant fear.

Now, my friends who grew up in SW Ohio in the '80s talked about lightning storms more--constantly damaged appliances and seeing the lightning travel through the house. That's scary, too.