• Last modified 1176 days ago (June 2, 2016)


Be careful out there, Toto

I do not know how many of you are plugged into social media and share your daily lives with friends and family all over the globe, but our little corner of Oz got plenty of play during the up and down weather scenario that plagued us this past week.

Oddly enough, when I posted a picture of a young woman in western Kansas showing off a grapefruit-sized chunk of hail, friends in Nevada, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, and California had already seen it. Imagine that.

I also noticed that many of the same photos and videos of horizons draped with wall clouds, massive dark and roaring tornados, and unusual cloud formations popped up repeatedly. Most of them were from Kansas.

I belong to a social media page for the women’s college I attended. I spent some serious time answering questions about what it is like to live in “tornado alley.” Everyone has an opinion about living in such a place. However each of my friends lives in a location fraught with its own troubles — earthquakes, heavy snow and ice storms, serious flooding, hurricanes, deadly heat. You name it; someone has to deal with it.

For some reason, they all think nothing could be worse than living in tornado alley and watching the skies for destruction. I think winter is an abomination. Ice and snow are God’s punishment for something. Hurricanes roaring in from the oceans are about as predictable as a tornado roaring across the plains — one atmospheric hiccup and suddenly a whole new area is at risk. Those in the path cannot count on any of it. Many of us have felt the stomach roll associated with earthquakes recently. None of us wants the crumbling infrastructure that can come with it.

The bottom line, of course, is that we all are at risk when Mother Nature sweeps into our lives. It is part of what we must endure wherever we reside. The best thing is to be ready to take action against becoming a victim. Know where you will go and what you will do if nasty weather strikes. Have supplies in place and be sure your family knows where to rendezvous after the storm in case you are not all together.

We have all heard these recommendations for decades if we have been residents of tornado alley. However, I know many local residents are like me — we have never seen one in all of our years here. It is easy to become complacent about the danger. Maybe social media and instant communication serve as a wakeup call for those of us who have become cavalier about storm warnings. Seeing our skies fill with roaring tornadoes and our landscapes destroyed in an instant on a computer screen is a bit more alarming than a still shot in a newspaper 24 hours later.

Maybe it is time to pay more attention. Double-check your emergency plans and supplies. Make sure your family knows what precautions to take. It never hurts to review such things. Do it today. Storm season is here for a while.

—Susan Marshall

Last modified June 2, 2016