March 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm Leave a comment



I cannot comprehend the destruction tornadoes have brought to this country the last few days.

I have spent years in the Midwest, attending college in Oklahoma and stationed, during my air force experience, in Wichita. While in Wichita I was once close to a tornado but never witnessed it. It was on a spring afternoon and the sky filled with storm clouds. They grew denser and the bottom edges were edged in green. While out looking at the sky, the wind howled and then stopped. The temperature dropped, the wind returned, this time accompanied by huge hailstones. Miles away a tornado was reported.

The only place I witnessed a tornado, and I saw a few, was while living in Miami, Florida. From the lab window where I worked, I had a clear view of the ocean and twice observed water spouts. And then one Saturday afternoon I was fishing with friends in the Everglades when a line of storms approached from the north. We decided to return to Miami, and as we were driving, I could see a delicate black finger, in the distance, descend from the clouds. That was the only land tornado I witnessed and never did reach the ground before dissolving back into the clouds.

But in the last few days communities in the west and south have witnessed the destruction of this force first-hand, and many did not live to tell the tale. We have all seen the images, but I feel that unless you see the massive amount of destruction first-hand, you have no appreciation of the force of a tornado, and are truly unable to comprehend to impact on the communities involved.

How do you prepare for the destructive force of a tornado?

As a snow storm approaches, as we are accustomed to here in the east, you have days to prepare. There is the traditional raid on grocery stores for eggs, bread and milk. (Perhaps in some future piece I will discuss why I think we do this.) Then there are the camera crews stalking the hardware stores as people rush to buy snow shovels and salt. Just as an aside, one newscaster comment, “How many shovels do people need?” For with the approach of every snow storm, snow shovels sell out.

We have the same advanced warning in the case of hurricanes. The vastness of the impact cannot be fully predicted, as with Katrina, you know for days that a storm is approaching. Sometimes, however, human error adds to the magnitude of the loss, take Katrina for example. With the approach of a hurricane, the news is full of people boarding up window and leaving town, at least those that can.

But what do you do when a tornado outbreak is predicted? With today’s technology, we have warning, perhaps a day in advance, that tornados my appear over a vast area. Not until these vast machines of destruction are truly set into motion does one truly know where the danger exits. There is no way to protect your house and belongings. It is useless for the destructive forces are so haphazard.

Do you run?

You may be leaving a safe haven only to enter death’s door. You can only wait, take what cover you can, while this traveling fiend does its devil’s dance across the landscape, sparing one home and destroying the house next door.

I know all our hearts go out to those having experienced the recent mayhem. Wish them well in their recovery. Time will heal the landscape and erase the physical carnage. Hopefully, time will eventually soften the loss and experience of those affected.

Entry filed under: Walt Trizna, WALT'S OBSERVATIONS. Tags: , , .


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March 2012

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