Thursday, March 1, 2007

it's twister season...

Jagged clouds, a still humidity, a drenching rain, low pressure, cooling air. All the ingredients for a tornadic event. And an event we did have today in the Midwest. When my students got to school, the early morning tornadoes were all the talk. And when we learned by late afternoon teachers and students were killed in a high school in Alabama, my students realized the danger of a storm and value of the new storm shelter the school is building.

There was no doubt tornadoes touched down. As we read online news articles spotlighting Caulfield and West Plains, we began to see some trends through the news writing. It seems now we have to be politically correct, even when dealing with the weather. On MSNBC, the staff writers consistently used the term "apparent" tornadoes. Is this like an "alleged" crime? I understand there's a difference between high winds, thunderstorms, microbursts, and tornadoes, but please, are we just looking for words to use to clutter our articles and make them sound as if we know what we are talking about? Or has the staff writer simply never seen the results of a tornado?

I have my own experiences with tornadoes. When I was 13, the back screen door of our house was ripped off its hinges at 9:00 p.m. when dad was stepping out to his patrol car. He turned and yelled for us--me, my friend Kathy, and my granny--to get to the bathroom. Petrified, we did as we were told and rode out the storm that did minor damage to our place, but tore off the roof of our neighbors. When I was 16, Tina and I watched a tornado crawl across the sky in front of her house one afternoon when school was released. And in college in Nebraska, I spent an entire night in the basement of the student union when tornadoes plagued the prairies.

I can't remember a spring of my life that I haven't used the word tornado, but I have never used the words "apparent" and "tornado" together. I just find that amusing.