You can feel it in the air. There is an unsettling breeze that does little to relieve the ominous pressure. An overcast sky appears scrambled and confused while the fickle sun pokes in now and again, just to get a rise out of the storm troopers.
I spent most of Wednesday close to my TV, listening to the prattle of overexcited forecasters, checking the radar, wondering where would be the best place to take cover in my basement-less house. By nature, I am more of a housetop garret-type person, but these times call for a nice, dry cellar (preferably stocked with a good selection of wine).
Throughout the day, there came countless warnings, numerous sirens and many annoying EAS messages that basically cut you off from seeing specifically where the tornadoes are heading. The news stations had already relayed the same information before they blacked out for an announcement.
Believe me, if you were still watching Gilligan’s Island while all this was going on, I don’t think the Emergency Alert System was going to help much.
While no doubt the latest radar technology is invaluable in saving lives and protecting property, I often worry that we have become so insulated from nature that we ignore her early warning signs. Our own intuitive EAS can be drowned out by the din of modern conveniences.
A Mennonite friend of mine tells of how the Amish in northern Indiana paid attention to their sweating barns and livestock’s restless behavior, and despite the fact that it was a holiday, prepared for the worst. They were safely tucked in storm cellars when the killer tornadoes of Palm Sunday, 1965, took 271 lives and injured more than 1,200 in Indiana alone.
After a long night, my neighborhood was spared, this time. Tragically, the last month has seen some of the worst tornado outbreaks since 1974. Like the tulip poplar blossom above, the violent storms I have witnessed from my porch and TV have torn me from a complacent stupor, and left me on the ground, battered.
To observe another day.