Wednesday, May 06, 2009
As I write this to you, yet another batch of bad weather is headed my way. One gets blase about tornadoes after a while because one can go years before they threaten any area remotely close to you. Tornadoes are tiny and extremely fickle creatures. If one of them touches down in a neighborhood, it is not unusual to see one house completely demolished while its neighbors to the east and west are completely spared. Unlike hurricanes, which destroy whole swaths of ground in every direction and hang around for hours or even days at a time, there is no solid rule to explain or estimate for how long tornadoes will remain on the ground or hold together long enough to do serious harm. Some last mere minutes from start to finish. Some threaten to touch down but pass overhead harmlessly instead. Some stay on the ground for extended periods of time. Some decide, by an unknown quirk of fate, to only touch down for two or three minutes in totality before diving back upwards and then eventually falling apart altogether.
The statistic below shows you what I've been dealing with since I returned back to Alabama, roughly two months ago. I arrived at the beginning of Spring and the Spring months comprise our busiest tornado season. We also have a second season that, while milder, is still destructive. That one occurs in November. Soon Spring will give way to summer and conditions will become unfavorable for tornado development. One often forgets just how brief tornado season is because the end results are so very destructive.
Preliminary Storm Prediction Center stats show that through Monday, there have been over 70 tornadoes in Alabama, which leads the nation in 2009. This total through early May is about 3/4 of the total number of tornadoes for ALL of 2008.
What I will say is that I have never understood why tornadoes favor certain parts of town more than others. Anyone who has watched the news for an extended period of time has observed how many under-educated working class whites are the victims of tornadoes and cringes to hear their bad grammar, simplistic explanations, and pronounced twang while being interviewed by the latest local news station. I'd rather not attempt to explain their economic or education situation and instead focus on the tragedy. These people often don't have the money to buy a house and resort to trailers instead. Trailers are especially unsafe during tornadoes, so people frequently perish or are severely injured when they are blown to and fro in the high winds of the storm or when felled trees fall on top of the modular homes and crush the inhabitants living within them.
Yet, oddly enough, as a passive observer I've noted the track tornadoes take, and they hit the same towns and sites over and over and over again. These locations are by in large peopled by poor whites. The cycle never ceases. Schools, churches, and homes are destroyed by the latest round of storms. Camera crews are called to the scene. People mourn. Then the rebuilding commences. A few months later, a tornado touches down. Schools, churches, and homes are destroyed by the latest round of storms. Camera crews are called to the scene. People mourn. Then the rebuilding commences. And so on, and so on.
If it were me, I'd move somewhere else.