Thursday, April 05, 2007

A report from a friend

One of my best friends has experienced what a tornado can do to people. I know many of us who are fascinated by the weather tend to either forget or dismiss how severe weather affects lives. I have read where some weather geeks actually hope for tornadic weather. I suppose it doesn't matter what we hope in the sense that the weather's going to do what it's going to do regardless. Wishing won't make it happen. All I'm saying is that I think some of us cross a line where our fascination with nature gets in the way of our concern for other people.

It just bugs me that we weather geeks have a tendency to forget the sadness and the pain weather can cause. I think that it helps to walk a mile in a victim's shoes before getting too excited about severe weather. That is one reason I really appreciate ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann at He balances a fascination for weather with compassion and concern for his viewers.


My friend Johnny's wife was severely and permanently injured by the November 15, 1989 Huntsville tornado. Her life will never be the same. Nor will Johnny's. I am proud of how they have stuck together despite so many trials that have occurred as a result of that terrible day. That tornado is still affecting them every day, even in 2007. One of the many ways is the fear that the threat of severe weather can now bring. Monday night, Johnny's community was placed under a tornado warning.

Although there was a possible tornado warning reported at the time, the NWS in Huntsville has surveyed the damage and has concluded that it was caused by straight-line winds. I emailed Johnny yesterday to see how he and his wife were doing after the storm. Here is his response:

"We heard a LOT of noise but there wasn't much that happened in our neighborhood beyond blooms and all the silver maple "helicopters" being blown off trees. Judging by the radar we saw last night and several downed trees I saw on the way to work this morning (maybe a hundred yards south of Murphy Hill Baptist Church on Murphy Hill Rd in Toney, if you want to Google that), the hardest part of the storm tracked a few miles to the southwest of us. The trees had been across the road but had been cut up by the time I went through. It seemed very localized. The woods and farmland all around seemed undisturbed and I couldn't detect a damage path to the southeast.The worst part for us was that when the warning was announced, it was starting right on top of us. Kathy was extremely upset and it took a while to convince her that it was actually already practically in Meridianville by the time the radio went off. We had some damage to a tabletop fan when I got frustrated and threw it out of the hall closet to make room for Kathy!"

You've gotta love that sense of humor!


Dewdrop said...

First off Mike, great changes to your blog... I like the images.

As for your blog, these storms are a powerful force, and I have tremendous respect for their power and potential for destruction and devastation. My husband struggles to understand my passion for weather, and my interest in chasing storms. I have said many times that I want to chase, but I want to chase storms to appreciate the science of them, to experience their awe, what an amazing demonstration of God's power. It breaks my heart though when these storms devastate, injure and kill. Of course, I have no wishes that these storms impact populated areas, but they, unfortunately, do, and if I can be out there, watching the storm and reporting severe weather back to agencies, so they can do their best to warn those in its path, then, my chasing/spotting has saved lives. My wish is that the technology to understand and predict these storms sufficiently to spare all lives would be available. Until that day...

Great write up. It's good to keep people grounded.


Mike said...

Thanks, Dew...You gave me some great help with your ideas! There is no question that storm spotters, such as yourself, provide potentially life-saving information to the NWS, etc. Mike