Posts tagged ‘tornado’

DISASTER IN REAL-TIME

In my novel, The Beast Awaits, I try to convey the atmosphere of impending doom which exits for populations thousands of mile away from the initial incident. As with everything I write it needs editing. I find that even to be true with work I have published. The process never stops. I recently had an experience which brought to mind the atmosphere I tried to create. I must go back and see if I can now find better words.

The incident I am referring to is the recent rash of tornadoes our country has experienced. I’ve always been a weather junkie and during the tornado outbreak I tuned to the Weather Channel. The meteorologists were following the storms in real-time, analyzing the radar and issuing warnings. A strange feeling crept over me as they recorded evidence of debris circulating in the air picked up by the tornado. These debris clouds were people’s lives being changed forever, perhaps the people themselves being destroyed, all as it actually happened.

Occasionally they would have people on the ground right after the storm passed and, together with the residents, survey the damage left behind. I sat in the comfort of my family room watching up to the minute changes in people’s lives.

In The Beast Awaits, I deal with events such as this and the emotions they create, the ‘I’m glad it’s not me’ feeling and try to convey the atmosphere that ‘your turn is coming soon’.

Car accidents also come to mind, how everyone slows down to survey the damage, mostly I’m sure glad with the ‘glad it’s not me’ feeling. In The Beast Awaits that emotion is short-lived, for just down the road will be your turn.

May 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

WALT’S OBSERVATIONS

WALT’S OBSERVATIONS
ON THE WEATHER

TORNADOES

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.

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


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