David Frum

05.25.13

For Some People, Tornadoes Are a Part of Life

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As a child of Tornado Alley myself, I endorse the sentiment in this American Prospect piece by Monica Potts.

Tornado Watches, the meteorology term for “Hey, watch out a bad storm might come,” [are] akin to saying “It is a spring day,” in Tornado Alley, which sits, of course, right over Oklahoma.

It doesn’t register as danger, really—just another rotation around the sun. In the Ozarks of northern Arkansas, we get fewer tornadoes, but ‘fewer’ is still plenty. Bad weather brings a little map to the bottom right corner of the TV screen on local networks, and when I was growing up the piece of map representing each county would change from yellow to red to signal a change from a Tornado Watch to a Warning, the term for, “Hey, a Tornado is probably going to happen.” Technically, you’re supposed to take cover, but most still wait for more specificity. The Warnings are issued for huge swaths of land, and span hours. Usually, the storms just get a little worse. If I was home, I’d grab my little white dog, Puppy, and a golf club to kill snakes with in case I had to crawl into the tiny, dirty space beneath my house. I was lucky enough to have a foundation. If you’ve ever been in a mobile home during a storm, and felt it sway and bend, you know what kind of luck those poor souls are going to have. And I’ve yet to see a structure that could withstand a two-mile-wide EF5 tornado like the one that hit Moore.