April 14, 2012
We’re finally back to a relatively normal April around here, complete with thunderstorms and tornado watches. The Storm Prediction Center, part of the National Weather Service, issued a high-risk warning of possible tornado outbreaks on Friday for parts of the middle United States from Minnesota down to southern Texas today – especially from Salina, Kansas to Oklahoma City this afternoon.
A tornado hit Norman, Oklahoma yesterday afternoon, with nineteen people injured. Here in Springfield, we’ve had thunderstorms rolling in and out since the wee hours of Friday morning and it’s raining as I write this. We needed the rain.
I peered out the window a while ago – those vibrant shades of green against a luminous gray sky, the trees slow dancing in a light wind, all promise good gardening ahead though it certainly put an end to my son’s plans to come over and finish putting in the fence posts today.
Every time the thunder rolls in, the cat dashes under the skirted table by the couch. And though I am not so skittish, I keep my tornado bag handy and check the weather news occasionally as afternoon approaches. Even the tomato and pepper starts in the plant room lean toward the window as if keeping an eye on the sky outside.
We take our tornadoes seriously around here, from the great tornado outbreak on April 18, 1880 – eight to ten tornadoes that crossed ten counties before the night was over, killed 152 people and nearly wiped out the town of Marshfield (92 dead) – to the EF5 tornado that destroyed such a large part of Joplin on May 22, last year, killing 161 people.
Having grown up in Tornado Alley, I’ve always been fascinated by what we know – and don’t know – about how tornadoes are spawned from thunderstorms. If you’re interested, NOAA has a good site that explains both. http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/
I also keep a “tornado bag,” which a person could adapt for whatever weather emergencies they might have in their area.
At a minimum, your disaster supply kit should include:
• A 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won’t spoil.
• One change of clothing and footwear per person.
• Blanket or sleeping bag per person.
• A first-aid kit, including prescription medicines.
• Emergency whistle and other tools (such as manual can opener and plastic dishes and silverware if you’re planning on canned food), a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a portable radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries.
• An extra set of car keys and a credit card or cash.
• Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
As climate change progresses, local and regional weather patterns will change in ways we don’t fully understand. This past weird March is just one example. We’ll need to be more alert to what’s going on around us and be prepared to face extreme weather patterns and stronger, possibly stranger, severe weather events. The time to prepare yourself and your family is before severe weather happens. I know I sound like a cross between your local weather person and your mother, but seriously, if you haven’t prepared yet, now would be a good time to look around at what types of events happen in your neck of the woods, decide where you and your family would go and get together a kit and a plan in place to deal with them.
While I was finishing up this blog post, the clouds blew away, the sun came out and it’s a lovely day here in Springfield. Whether that will change again by this evening and the storms from Kansas and Oklahoma blow in, I don’t know. I guess that’s just part of the fun of spring and tornado season in the Ozarks.