Saturday, April 24, 2010

I survived the great Waco Tornado of May 11, 1953 that killed 114 people. I also made it through several hurricanes when I lived on the Gulf Coast, including Hurricane Carla. In those days we had no warning system. They just estimated how bad things were by counting the dead and looking at the damage after the event. Now days the weathermen go crazy over a shower. They have every piece of sophisticated equipment imaginable. It’s enough equipment to embark on an odyssey to the outer limits of space.

Last night we had a line of thunderstorms move through the area, as is common during the spring. There was a team of weathermen at each TV station tracking the storms from their origin in west Texas right on through Central into East Texas. They were up most of the night interrupting regular TV programming and on continuous video via the internet. They gave a blow-by-blow description of every raindrop and lightening strike. They had live animated Doppler trained on the clouds and cameras stationed at key locations throughout the viewing area. The cameras could be rotated at any angle to see the action. They talked about the potential size of hail, ranging from softball to pea size. They described the various wind forces and estimated velocities to within a fraction of a mph. They referred to tornadic winds within the various colors displayed on the Doppler. They spoke about highs, lows, fronts and used many other meteorological terms that would take a take a PhD in meteorology to understand. My spouse and I were so frightened by the news that we got out of bed and dressed to await the coming disaster. I knew, a couple of hours in advance, when the very first drop of rain would hit the porch. As it turned out, it was just a moderately heavy rain for a few minutes and we didn’t even have any of the dead limbs fall out of the trees. I guess we should just be thankful that it wasn’t any worse and we had these experts to make us aware of the potential danger.

Another interesting thing about their predictions is that all these storms seem to start in west Texas and march in a straight line right through Central Texas and the I35 corridor. You would think it is raining in west Texas all the time, yet when I visit that part of the country it’s like a desert.

The weather is just too complicated for me to understand and I’m not so sure I really want to know that much about it. The worse thing about these alarming weather reports is they drive me off my precious porch. I‘m afraid to stay in that exposed area and get blown away like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.


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