Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's Stormarama!

With the National Weather Service predicting, shall we say, interesting weather for today ...
... the miracle that is YouTube allows a tour of severe weather (started Saturday) over slightly longer than my lifetime. Our tour begins two months before I was born, on April 11, 1965 (or 46 years ago Monday), the day of the Midwestern (including Wisconsin) Palm Sunday tornado outbreak:

Two years later, my aunt and uncle lived near Belvidere, Ill., the site of another deadly tornado outbreak:
April 3, 1974 was the day of the then-worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history, memorialized in the film "The Day of the Killer Tornadoes." Eighteen days later, during a Bucks playoff game (back when the Bucks actually played in the playoffs), Oshkosh residents got to see this:
Another tornado that day resulted in a death in Fond du Lac County.

On a June day in 1984, I drove to southwest Wisconsin to pick up my grandmother to take her back to Madison for my brother's high school graduation. I was kept up for a while that night by storms off in the distance. Those storms, in the middle of the night, produced this:
We didn't know what had happened until we turned on my car radio the next morning to hear strange civil defense reports that made no sense ... until we drove through Black Earth, the next destination for the Barneveld tornado, and saw the damage there.

(Rick Fetherston, by the way, was one of my UW professors. I did a one-year-later story for a reporting class.)

Chris' graduation took place that next day. That afternoon, his graduation party was interrupted by a tornado warning, for a funnel cloud one mile from our house. If there was a funnel cloud,  we didn't see it, but people were, to say the least, jumpy about the weather for quite some time afterward. (Another tornado warning was issued three days later.)

We didn't move to Ripon until 1999, so we missed this in 1993 (we were watching the Mississippi River floods instead):

In 1996, while my wife was volunteering at the Atlanta Olympics (uncomfortably close to this), I stopped at a used book store in Appleton, which had on Wisconsin Public Radio, which was broadcasting storm warnings. The clerk muttered something about the National Weather Service always overblowing storms. That was an ironic statement given that while that was happening, so was this:
Somehow, I doubt people in Oakfield thought the warnings that day were overblown.

On June 23, 2004, a tornado killed a man outside Markesan by sucking him and his wife outside of their basement. The 17-tornado day, the fourth largest tornado outbreak in state history, included (1) a tornado in Madison near the hotel where my wife, mother-in-law and sisters-in-law were staying with my father-in-law in a Madison hospital (they decided to seek shelter when they saw building parts flying past the window), (2) a tornado about a mile from my parents near Waupaca, (3) a tornado that formed a few miles east of where my aunt was playing golf, and (4) the aforementioned Markesan-area tornado south of Ripon, when I grabbed my then four-year-old and 1½-year-old and headed to the basement, through which windows a strange yellow sky could be seen.

On Memorial Day weekend 2008, we watched, from southwest Wisconsin, the Waterloo/Cedar Rapids TV coverage of the Parkersburg, Iowa, tornado. The Weather Channel could not be bothered to cover said tornado because they were running a marathon of their global warming propaganda series.

And finally, one year ago, Michael got an iPod for his 10th birthday, and this is how he broke it in:

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