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Thursday, 26 May 2011


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"Fearsome" is an understatement. One of the images of the tornado damage I saw this morning tattooed my memory for life. It was of an electric guitar, Fender Stratocaster-like, whose neck was stuck deeply into a wall, presumably by being hurled at 200 mph. But the guitar's body seemed so unscathed, and the wall appeared otherwise free of damage (within the frame of the photo) such that the scene looked like a conceptual sculpture that you might expect outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A grim tribute to Pete Townsend?

Unfortunately I cannot relocate the image. (I think it was on the NPR site, but am not certain.)

I was under the impressions that tornado warnings were quite effective these days, yet it seems some people were totally unprepared. How can that be?

Those pictures of Joplin are truly terrifying.

Down near the west end of Lake Ontario where I live tornados are not common, however waterspouts on Lake Ontario are, and especially during extremely hot humid periods in the summer months and leading
into the fall. Humidity here can be in excess of 100 percent for long periods . Particulary west of here towards Windsor and Detroit areas where the ground is very level and the heat is extreme, tornados are common.
Looking at the Times images the path of the tornado is evident.It reminds me in part of the landscape after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and that was a small device compared to what might be available today.

Global warming? No, more likely climate change affecting everything to do with our lives. I would expect more ravaging
winds and cold over the next fifty to one hindred years as we only now realize we have been killing Mother Earth. Suspect we shall reap what we have sown and yes, destroyed.

Ironic that, while we devote much of the sharp end of scientific endeavo(u)r to finding ever more efficient/horrific ways of expunging our fellows, nature still does it best, cheapest and least avoidably.


there's a very informative graphic relating the tornado Fujita Scale with Mach numbers and the Beaufort Scale at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cf/Fujita_scale_technical.svg/2000px-Fujita_scale_technical.svg.png

(it is explicitly stated that the graphic is in the public domain, so if you want I think you could include it on TOP)

Even an F0 tornado such as that I witnessed appears to be Force 11 on the Beaufort Scale, with which I am much more familiar. The Fujita Scale itself appears to cater for a tornado up to F12, where the windspeed is Mach One. Scary stuff.

That image of a guitar made me look around. I couldn't find it either, but this guy mentions a similar incident in 2008.

This is not a guitar, but it's almost equally surreal.

Well I can't find that darn guitar-stuck-in-wall shot again, either! I'm going to have to let it go.

But erlik's chair is a pretty good substitute! It's also included in a ten-set, as Mike would call it, of such images that I found while on the search.

Makes me think of that Meters song: "The world is a little bit under the weather...."

And how, these days...

A good friend is the senior pastor of St. Paul's United Methodist Church on West 26th Street in Joplin. It wasn't until late Monday that we received the word that he and his family were okay, they being a few of the lucky folks in that area. It's surreal to think that when my wife and I have visted Joplin we bought groceries in a store down the street which is now leveled or how nice we thought the tree lined streets in the area were. We passed through Joplin just a couple of months ago. It's easy to ask how any of these folks can rebuild their lives while facing such loss.

It occurred to me this week that while we understand these severe storms are very rare all of us who have lived in the Midwest know someone who has lost their home at some point during their lives due to a tornado. They are very rare storms and yet they happen all the time, so it goes.

Many folks are confused about so many people being caught in the storm when there was ample warning. Joplin, like nearby Springfield, MO, is a large town/small city in an area set apart meaning a large number of residents of neighboring small towns and of the countryside come to Joplin during the weekend to shop, relax, see a movie, or do just about anything a person can't do in his or her modern small rural town in the Midwest. I've spent a good portion of my life sitting in weekend traffic jams along Battlefield Road and Glenstone Avenue in Springfield. I can easily see 1500 people sitting in cars in stop and go traffic at the stoplights along 26th Street in Joplin at dinner time on a Sunday. There wouldn't be enough time for all of the people sitting in a traffic jam to leave their cars for the meager safety offered by the area stores and restaurants built on concrete slabs. There would be no place to go in a storm that was nearly a mile in diameter.

Let's hope the folks of Joplin find some peace and find the strength to rebuild their city.



Mike, thank you for mentioning Joplin during the past few days.

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