Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Cow! (aka “…This is Not a Test")
[Posted by Bill] As you can gather from Shelley’s previous post, last night was somewhat interesting. My dream simply absorbed the "air-raid siren" going off (no surprise to me) in the dream, so I kept snoozing a little longer until it finally clicked. When I jolted out of my dream and read the crawl on the TV saying “tornado NE of Euclid heading SE”, I envisioned the duck’s eye view of a shotgun blast. In all the years that I followed storms, I never had a warning issued for my immediate area, and I don't even think the siren system has ever been fired in anger. If it was just Shel and me, I probably would have opened a window to listen, tracked the storm on-line, and ran to the basement at the last minute. Since that's no longer the case, I pulled on shorts and T, grabbed my phone, and went for one of the kids. That’s about the time the hail started falling.
After going to the basement, I had to go back for my laptop, since I have yet to replace the basement TV (my plan was to swap out our living room TV with a new one, and put it in the basement, but I haven’t gotten that far yet). By the time my laptop booted, the NWS issued a cancellation. As would be expected with this type of storm, it hit land and fell apart (somewhat the same as a waterspout, but this was still a strong storm cell. Waterspouts are usually caused by the temperature differential between the very warm lake and the cool autumn ambient temperature, which is why they happen frequently here in the fall. Our cooler forecast for this weekend actually calls for them). After coming upstairs, I pretty much figured it out. No real tornado sighted. grr. While I respect the effort to get out an early warning in order to save lives, it usually means that the talking weatherheads are hyping this thing as a ratings grabber. I’m getting pretty damn tired of these nudniks going on-camera and doing the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater. Once, during a baseball playoff game on Fox 8 (during the Solon tornado that Nancy H. commented on in Shelley’s post?), I watched A.J. Colby lose his mind (and eventually his job) over people calling to complain about interrupting the game (“it’s my JOB, people!”) with his yammering. I thought he was gonna have an apoplexy. While it sometimes make sense to“go live” to provide important information, haven’t you people ever heard of PIP? Leave your sense of smug, self-importance off-camera. Not that we had to worry about any of this last night. When we turned on the TV, all we found on local TV were infomercials. Each station (eventually) had a simple crawl for a warning (I guess even Dick Goddard needs his beauty rest). Anyway, I figure that at 2 a.m., the NWS has the low guy on the totem pole working graveyard shift, who saw his shot at being a hero. Therefore, Ken Dorsey hit the panic button, and set off the warnings. Luckily, they retracted the warning as fast as they released it. It’s pretty evident that the “rotational echoes associated with tornadic activity” (the NUMBER ONE justification they use for needlessly scaring the bejeezus out of people-including us last night) are viable predictor of tornadoes. If anything, this phenomena, when observed on the “dual double dipper doppelganger radar", should justify the creation of a new warning level between “watch” and “warning” (“alert”, if you will). Yes, a tornado needs this rotation to occur, but it does not guarrantee a tornado will form. It's like a car must be running in order for someone to get run over by it, but it doesn't happen everytime some turns the key and starts the thing. In spite of all this, I'm somewhat chagrined at not having some things readily at hand last night. I even own a hand-powered flashlight and radio (let alone a Victoreen model 715 survey meter-$39.99, catalogue sales only), but not that they were handy. It seems that I let the "Bataan Death March", otherwise known as the home renovation project that consumed the past nine months of my life, get in the way of our normal preparedness level. In our old house, I knew where things were: our finished basement was normally stocked with things that we’d need at a moment’s notice (including TV), and our bug-out bags were packed (Shelley even had one packed for the cats). While we are a far cry more prepared for disasters than most people I know, it is more geared for TEOTWAWKI*, than a tornado. Having lived near the Lake Erie shoreline and adjacent hilly topography (pretty much kryptonite to twisters) for the past 25 years, I haven’t had to give too much thought to them, at least since I stopped dating Helen Hunt. At any rate, I need to get our preparedness level back to at least DEFCON3. We certainly have all the “stuff” handy, it’s just a matter of organizing it in our new house. The only additions to the plan are our new additions (no, I’m not referring to Ronny, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike). I’ll leave the Nolan and Reagan’s bug-out bag to Shel. For those more curious about preparedness, this Red Cross link is a good start. For more “complicated” situations, this blog has some great resource links (take some of it with a grain of salt). I guess getting a new TV is a matter of utmost national security!
* The End Of The World As We Know It