Sunday, July 10, 2005


Here in Florida we have weather... lots of weather. This week we have been preparing for another hurricane. Our area was thankfully spared the major brunt of this storm. But we can't take anything for granted, some of the worst damage I've seen has been from a no name storm. So we ready and hope it's not necessary.

Even if a hurricane isn't headed directly for us, it can get close enough to create other serious problems. This is what Dennis the Menace has done. We have had rain for days. Hard rains at times so there is flooding in some areas. Gusty winds and tornadoes have also spawned so there are those ramifications. Minor in comparison to a direct hit by a category 4 hurricane. However, if it's your car or bedroom under the fallen tree you might not think it quite so minor.

Tornadoes really scare me because they are so unpredictable. Having grown up in North Central Missouri and having lived in Florida for the past 23 years, I have nothing but respect for tornadoes. Seeing first hand the damage they can do will give you religion in a hurry! A tornado can take the house and leave the attached garage. Uproot a massive 200 year old oak tree. Drive straw into the side of a barn like nails. Remove a cow from a pasture and safely deposit her on another farm. Take every house in the neighborhood except one or turn everything for miles and miles into match sticks. When conditions are ripe, they strike, Every tornado I have ever seen has emerged from a calm greenish sky. It's an eery color of green and yes, there is always that calm before the storm. I don't care where you live, if you've seen a tornado or it's aftermath you will never forget it.

In the mid-west we had a siren that sounded if a tornado had been sited in the area. It was really the same as the fire whistle when the one and only fire truck left the station but we could hear it around town and we knew to take cover. With today's technology, the local TV station's weather forecast serves the same purpose. When conditions are right I watch to see if there has been a watch or warning issued. The difference every place I have ever lived is that a WATCH means the conditions are just right for a tornado to develop. A WARNING means a tornado has been spotted in the area... either on radar or by the human eye. This is usually followed with directional information.

Our local NBC station has a weather man, Steve, who has decided to change those standard guidelines. He often interrupts regular programming or a banner appears to announce a tornado warning when in fact no funnel cloud has been spotted. This drives me nuts because it can cause viewers to start ignoring his warnings. I emailed Steve once and asked why he issues a warning when the condition warrants only a watch. His answer was condescending and terse. Basically informing me that growing up in the mid-west didn't make me an expert and that tornados in Florida are drastically different. (I'll bet he thinks rain is wetter here too.) What he said was something like he issues a warning when no tornado has been sited because he doesn't think the public knows the difference in the terms. Guess it's easier for him this way. Strange, the other stations all use the warning/watch terminology. I personally watch Denis Phillips on ABC. He knows the difference and is usually right on when it comes to hurricanes as well. Maybe Steve should consider watching Denis a too.


At 1:11 PM, Blogger sttropezbutler said...

Don't get me started on the weathercasters. A sorry bunch for the most part...too many graphics and radars and not enough plain old fashioned words. But then they take their cues from the what can one expect. I see that we have the potential for Emily! Yikes. The season is ON!


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