Friday, May 2, 2008

Never trust the weather man.


No sooner than I posted last night's blog, at 1:30 AM, than the phone rang. Jasmin said "Hey, are you watching T.V. ?"
"I was about to check the news before I went to bed." I explained.
"Well, turn it on now. There is a major storm headed right towards you.
It had already started to thunder and lightening as we spoke. As I turned on the T.V., The rains began. Within seconds, the winds were blowing the heavy rains sideways. As I watched the news broadcast, they reported wind speeds of 60- 80 miles per hour in my area. That's hurricane force winds - in KANSAS! (we get strong winds across the prairie, but not usually THAT strong.) As I flipped through the local stations, all of our trusted meteorologists assured everyone that there were no tornadoes associated with this storm, that it was merely a strong thunderstorm. We could expect some serious wind damage, power outages, and possible hail damage, but not a lot else. Our electricity flickered several times, but not long enough that any of the clocks needed to be reset.
Since the storm was moving so quickly, it had arrived and sped through Olathe in a matter of 15-20 minutes. I had tried to wake Roy when it began, but he never budged. In fact, everyone, except Heather and I, slept through the whole thing. I stayed up another hour and a half, watching as it pushed through the greater Kansas City area, and into more rural areas, away from dense populations and anyone that I might know.
Around 3AM, they were continuing to track the storm, but they were also reading reports of minor damages. There were a few windows blown out at a shopping mall near my mother, trees blown over in various places, and widespread power outages. So feeling assured by the media that it was another typical, yet powerful, spring thunderstorm, and that all was calm behind it, I toddled off to bed around 4AM as the lightening and thunder lingered.
At 7:30 AM, Nick came rushing into our bedroom as we slept. "Hey guys ! you gotta come see the tornado damage in Gladstone !" Roy's boss, Tracy, lives in Gladstone, a small city about 25 minutes from here. This time, after 9 hours of sleep, Roy jumped out of bed and was downstairs in seconds. I followed them both trying to make sense of it all. They said: 'no tornadoes, no serious damage, just rain and strong winds.'. Nick had to be mistaken. However, in the light of day, it was obvious that this was more than a strong thunderstorm. On every station, the weathermen were looking sheepish and embarrassed. Apparently, after all the false alarms and sirens at 8PM the night before, real tornadoes, hidden in a thunderstorm had blown through, right under their noses, and they didn't even recognise them in the dark. No sirens were sounded, and a lot of people slept right through it.
They showed photo after photo like the one above. And as I mentioned before, there were houses that were completely demolished, while the houses on either side were completely untouched. Today, the weather service is sending all kinds of "experts" out to determine what happened. Was it horizontal wind damage? Were there really tornadoes hidden in the storm? Was it a micro bust? They have no clue.
Thankfully, no one was killed or even seriously hurt. Just a lot of property damage, lives turned upside down, and irreversible trauma.
Maybe the reason that I pay so little attention to the sirens and weather bulletins is because I have seen the "experts" be wrong so many times. I realise that being in the center of the country, Kansas weather can be hard to predict; But it just seems to me, that with all their high tech gadgets and million dollar equipment, they could get a little closer to being able to tell when people are in danger. After years of seeing so many photos and situations like the ones I've seen this morning, it's hard not to believe that God doesn't get a good chuckle at people trying to predict His will and ways. I've kind of learned to listen to my instincts, and have faith in God, rather than the weather bureau.
Well, I've got lots of stuff to do today. I need to get out of this chair and get busy.
Love,
Susan

3 howled back:

sparsely kate said...

Part of me wishes that I were there because you know how I love a good storm!! But, maybe, not THAT good a storm ;)

Glad you survived ok, I can't even imagine that sort of damage on my house. Poor people.

love mel

christopherc said...

I think storms are like life, you have to enjoy the calm after all the crap!

I'm glad no one was too direly hurt from the storm. I often wonder how forecasters can retain their jobs; few of them are correct in their forecast more than 50% of the time... any other career path and they would get the can.


PS: things are going along well in Boone this week. The rest I can deal with later in the week when I get back down east and call out the bluff.

Catherine said...

Yikes! That kind of excitement who needs!? that is too close to home, I am glad all faired well from your end - hang in there. Cat