Tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes

Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is it the end of the world yet? The news every day is filled with yet another disaster. Cyclones…thousands dead! Earthquakes…thousands buried….tornadoes…dozens dead! What scary headlines! But of course what would news be if it wasn’t another disaster; that is a typical day.

What about having a paper headline every morning that read: The sun came up yet again! Flowers blooming today! Wonderful kids volunteer time at the Old Folks Center! Brittney wears underwear!

If you do wake up reading those headlines, check your pulse! You might be reading the Heaven Times or the Paradise Item!

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To me, lately bad weather news has been more intense and frequent. It reminds me of the year when we began the year with a Tsunami and ended it with Katrina. That was a fun one.

I will let you in on a little secret. I have been living in Huntsville, Alabama and the joke for me is that I chose tornadoes over hurricanes. Now I can compare the two choices. Did I make a good deal?

Living with hurricanes has its advantages. I can mark my calendar when its time to start watching the skies. I will not take a cruise during hurricane months (although I have never cruised any time of the year….do I sound bitter? I still think about Poseidon Adventure!)

I know to purchase plywood in May, before June 1st. I know to gather my emergency kit together by June 1st. I know to make sure I have house insurance by June 1st or before anything gets into the gulf.

After the waters start churning in the Atlantic or Caribbean, as habit, I begin a focused fascination of watching the weather, knowing what every cloud is doing out there beyond the Gulf. I become almost obsessive. Now, online weather sites can let me be weather aware! I can watch from space anytime I want to check out the hot air churning. I can get charts, graphs, predictions, computer estimations, and psychic predictions all about hurricanes. If a leaf blows across the yard…I bet some camera somewhere has recorded it!

The expert meteorologist can predict a hurricane is going to Timbuktu and I am still watching it because I have seen storms in the past make u-turns and come for me!

Paranoid? Of course. Hurricanes are unpredictable and very frustrating.

I like the fact that hurricanes give me days of notice that something might be coming. I should plan a vacation to the mountains.

I like that hurricanes have names so that I can characterize them. Ivan, Katrina, Camille strike fear in my heart, but what about Bob?

We can remember storms by their names, not so with tornadoes. Its all boring, unmemorable dates. Do you remember the 1999 tornado in Oklahoma? I’m sure there was one.

As the hurricane nears its target, the radio and television stations only broadcast what to do, where to go, what you should have ready and where you should be leaving or have left. Loads of information.

It’s all about the hurricane.

In a new turn of events, I have been living in tornado-ville and I do not have to worry about June 1st anymore. No calendar can contain the deadly tornado. They strike anytime they feel like it.

Thankfully, I get a heads up from the weather guy that bad weather will be here on Thursday night around midnight. That kind of notification, I can pencil in my “to do” book. Go to store, write column, hide in basement.

Yet, the hurricane closes school and work, closing down the city. We all gather as families. We have a good meal and wait for “nothing” (most of the time). That is why coastal folks are so family-oriented. We have to huddle during the hurricane threats.

For tornado folks, they just go on with their lives, never huddling until the sirens go off. Thankfully, there are lots of warnings near the metropolis where I am. I get the special weather radio alert waking me up. I hear sirens go off. I grab the kids and go down to my safe place. Its exciting at first. Then I remember the movie Twister and I get scared!

The problem with tornadoes is that they are ruining my sleep. They come through mostly at night, the first siren goes off and you are up. The next round comes through and you are up again. I finally decided all those bad thunderstorm fronts we use to get in South Mississippi would have sent sirens off. Now, I have to pay attention to every storm because of its potential of producing a tornado. It’s exhausting.

And these aren’t your southern Mississippi tornadoes. They got big numbers up here, like E-4 and 5….oh my! We got cow-tornadoes!

One time, it messed up my work out. I was at the YMCA and off went the sirens. Darn storm interrupted my stress reliving work out by stressing me out with sirens. The worse weather we got was rain.

Don’t get me wrong. I want the warnings! I just didn’t know they would come all the time.

I can remember hurricane seasons where we did not have to nail that first piece of plywood. Peaceful summers with four o’clock thunderstorms that did not threaten to take our lives!

In contrast, I can also remember summers and late falls where we were constantly preparing for yet another one.

Then there are earthquakes. Although, we are not in earthquake prone areas in Mississippi and Alabama, we are always in danger of having one thanks to that darn Madrid fault. Just this year, we saw damage even in Louisville, KY from an earthquake. Its coming, one day.

Earthquakes are the worse. They do not have a schedule, nor an impending warning from the weather guy to be alert for a fast moving cold front with the potential of forming earthquakes. It just doesn’t happen. Out of the blue, no warning, this is the mysterious earthquake. Named only by their location. The San Francisco Earthquake…how un-scary is that?

Where can we move to hide from tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes? I think maybe the moon. But, it looks really tough for growing petunias. I need my petunias.

So, wherever my husband has a job and Allstate can insure my property — I choose to live there.