Sunday, April 15, 2012


Storms struck the central plains today and some were killed, among them, children. That morbid joke about tornadoes and trailer parks is not funny. The vulnerable made more vulnerable, put at greater risk. Wisconsin is at the northern end of tornado alley -- 38 confirmed touchdowns last year. They do not strike as often as other places but they do strike, and there are vague warnings for tonight. In the Midwest we are accustomed to watching the sky. A black sky isn't good, a green sky isn't good, a black and green sky is definitely not good. The new urgently worded warnings (Unsurvivable! Catastrophic!) may work the first couple of times but people will eventually go back to judging for themselves. We watch for the moment when the leaves stop still and then suddenly whip into a frenzy; we know when the hail comes then there's a good chance something worse is following. We listen for the sirens but they can be sporadic or late or incorrect. Not hearing sirens can give a false sense of security. We turn on the TV weather guy but the power can go out and we must rely on our instincts and experience. We know when the sky just doesn't look right. Nighttime is harder but frequent lightning reveals blowing trees and fast-moving clouds. We hunker in basements, sometimes sleeping there just to be safe.

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