Saturday, June 8, 2013

'Tis the Season

This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper.

Being a displaced Okie I've tended to be fairly aware of the weather back in Oklahoma lately. Of course about half the people in Tehachapi seem to have relatives back in Oklahoma, so I just have a little less separation that most. Back when I last lived in Oklahoma, tornado season, started in March and lasted until June, but this year the season started late (May) and will probably run late (?).

Many years ago, while in college, I actually worked part-time at the National Severe Storms Lab in Norman, Oklahoma. I was working with people in storm electricity (lightning, etc.) but did get to know some of the storm chasers, though I never went out on a chase. Though one morning after a storm I was called in, to take a visiting professor out touring the devastation (I had a government license so I could drive one of the Lab's vehicles, he didn't). That storm had gone through some of the rural areas west of Norman (and Oklahoma City).

Thankfully the damage caused by that particular storm was fairly small. But I have a distinct memory of driving along the path of the tornado and saw an old farmhouse that appeared untouched, but their giant combine tractor had been tossed around in the field and was laying on its side.
A few years later my brother was choosing between a couple restaurants to have a birthday dinner. They went to the one he picked when a storm came through and knocked out the power to the restaurant. They thought they had been unlucky until they learned that the other restaurant had been leveled by a tornado in the same storm.

This latest series of storms to hit Oklahoma reminds some people of why they don't want to live in Oklahoma. Many people around here seem to be more afraid of tornadoes than they might be of earthquakes. Of course the people back in Oklahoma seem to be more afraid of earthquakes than tornadoes. Go figure.

But the storms don't just bring tornadoes. While the storm in Moore, Oklahoma had more casualties from the tornado itself, generally more people die due to the flooding that comes with these storms. But the storm season will end and the water drain away. People's memories will fade as the summer humidity builds up. The cicadas will come out and the trees will be filled with their buzzing. And a different form of lightning will appear as the lightning bugs flash around backyards.

 And then, all too soon, the grass will be dried out and folks will be wishing for a little rain.


  1. I pray for all those lost during the tornadoes. In Indiana lives too have been lost from tornadoes and I spent my childhood learning how to prepare for one. Earthquakes are new to me and so far I have not experienced one yet. (Knock on wood) I too am more afraid of tornadoes than of earthquakes.

  2. Having lived through in F4 tornado that wiped out the east side of our small town of Windsor Colorado which was an extremely traumatic event for our family and community. Now whenever we hear of a storm coming we always pray for those who may be in the path. But your right people come together in a way that no other experience makes them as a destructive storm does. Unfortunately after the rebuilding and helping to clean up everyone drifts back into the sameness that existed before the devastation. I have experienced every kind of storm except for a hurricane and that is one I would like to skip.

  3. I've never been to OK...but a friend of mine lost her house to a tornado in KS some years ago. I understand she came pretty close to losing her life...yet she says earthquakes are scary. I guess it's the fear of the unknown kicking in. I'll take a rumbling earth over a hungry sky any day.

  4. My husband's aunt lives in Moore. When we visited a few years back they showed us debris still in their back yard from the 1999 tornado (which destroyed their daughter's house.) With these last few tornados, his aunt had been taking shelter in the daughter's rebuilt house which now has an underground safe area. They've been very fortunate to have had no damage from the storms this year. We always feel better after someone in the family has made contact with them.

  5. It's been a terrible season for those poor folks. My heart and prayers go out to them. I grew up in Michigan, and there was always talk about preparing for a tornado. I am lucky to not have experienced one first-hand.

    I like your post, Mark. Some lines that struck me: "The cicadas will come out and the trees will be filled with their buzzing. And a different form of lightning will appear as the lightning bugs flash around backyards." Everything back to normal, eh?