Tuesday, February 28, 2017

watching the weather-in-motion map as a bad storm zeroes in on my old hometown, carbondale illinois. three deaths already, at least one when the storm hit the interstate on the other side of the river, in missouri. actually there are several orange blobs moving through on the weather map, so it's not clear by any means which one hurt whom, which is going where, where the most deadly ones or the tornadoes are. it appears to me there are storms all over the place, iowa, northern illinois, and this one coming through from the bootheel up through and into indiana.

worst tornado ever came up on this path, up the river, and into the flat low area near carbondale, curving up into benton-west frankfort and over into indiana. killed a lot of people, and folks around there got pretty interested in warning systems and helping each other out, when the chips were down. tornadoes ruin a lot of old houses, knock over trees, take cars off their wheels, or even trucks, even semis.

we are a little relieved to be out of their path, up here on the mountain. but today, we had a windstorm of our own. it was blowing and whistling, and it was very cold, maybe about twenty - but with that wild raging wind, it was a "feelslike" of probably ten below. it was wild. leaves and trees were blowing and swaying all around. nothing like a tornado though.

the weather map keeps replaying itself, and coming right up to the edge of the town, then going back and doing it again. i'm on facebook as well, and lots of my friends are still there, in that town, laying low, many of them watching the same weather channel i am, no doubt.

besides the 1920 tornado, or whenever that first one was, that killed maybe 200 people, deadliest tornado ever, there was another one, one that i lived through, in about 2007, i'm not sure exactly. this one was called a 'derecho' or straight-line tornado, whipped right through town at about 90 mph, knocked over trees, destroyed houses, but didn't kill anyone. because it didn't kill anyone, it went under the radar of the world, and lots of people forgot. i didn't forget, though i'm somewhat fuzzy on the date. it was like may 9th or something, maybe the 7th. graduation day. after that, the place got real hot and muggy for like weeks. and we had no power. folks were out, sharing generators, and having cookouts out in the yards.

we had a shelter, a fiberglass thing, buried in our back yard, on the west side of carbondale. my wife and son, now fifteen, went down there during the storm. i was on campus, and our youngest son was also on campus when it happened. trees fell on every major road, and they were unable to get to us. i'm not sure how we ever got home. at some point we all got into the car and simply left twon. they were out of power for about ten days. we didn't have to be there any longer - it was about 99 degrees, very humid, and with no power and young children we felt a little helpless. but, we came back in a few days, tired of hotels and determined to make do one way or another.

so now my friends are under their stairs, in some safe place, or maybe the safest place - if they have a basement, they're in it. they weren't that big on basements there - it was too wet, and unrelenting - so things like our fiberglass shelter, were about the bet you could do. even the school was poorly prepared. the university was ok - but they had a lot of damage, because the trees were so huge on campus. and dozens of them fell.

oh well, long night. but i'm up early to sub in a "low incidence" class. whatever that is. chou


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