Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tornado Season

When I was a child living in Chicago in the 1960s, there were a string of terrible tornado seasons. While the twisters didn't come for us in the city, we felt the same weather systems. The sky turned green and the air pressure did strange things; the air one minute thick and damp and heavy turned wild and windy the next. Neighboring Will County was struck hard. For years afterward, every time my parents would take me on a car trip out of town, I was seized by terror that we would pass through Will County and be attacked by tornadoes. My mother later recounted to me that if they saw a "Will County" sign they would try distracting me so I wouldn't notice it and freak out.

This year the U.S. has been struck by waves of killer tornadoes: a few weeks ago in the South, yesterday in Missouri and today in Oklahoma. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands of people have been injured or lost their homes and belongings to the wind. In times like these it doesn't really seem useful to wonder — or possible to know — if these storms are just something nature is doing right now or if they're related to climate change (bizarrely we even had a small tornado here in Brooklyn a couple years ago and this is surely not tornado alley). But if I still remember the fear of being even a few dozen miles from tornadoes, I can't imagine how frightening it must be to live near where they're causing such suffering right now.

I know at least two of my regular readers live in prairie states right under those winds. Be safe, my prayers are with you. I sure hope you have basements!


  1. My daughter text-ed me this morning that she had received news from friends in Joplin asking for prayers and saying it was worse than seen on TV news. Can you imagine. Now Oklahoma... Suppose to get bumpy here in St. Louis tomorrow.

    We forget, especially now with the constant TV coverage, how terribly scary this and other news events can be for children.

    When 9/11 occurred, the principal of my grand-kids school, instructed the parents not to let the children watch television because the young ones could not discern that what they saw was repeats and now happening in real time. Good advice I think.

  2. I think probably too.

    Although the Wizard of Oz freaked me out too when I was a kid and that wasn't exactly real. :)

    Anyway, stay safe!

  3. i used to be very scared of tornados, but i'm kind of morbidly fascinated by them now. we had a small one here in central new jersey last summer touch down outside my house and rain came in through my roommate's window, our storage unit got ripped out, my lovingly tended morning glories were never seen again, and we became the proud owners of some cats and lots of patio furniture, all of which eventually found its rightful owners. the only reason i went inside during this was because it became tough to actually stand up. the fury of weather is so fascinating!

    that being said, destruction and tragedy are destructive and tragic no matter the cause, and my best wishes to my cahokian brethren in tornado-prone areas, and to anyone who is affected as such. stay safe, and don't be an idiot like me and try to stand outside when it starts.