Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 6, 2014

Weather's severity is all relative


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — But as a colleague of mine has already written, treating every storm like it’s its own apocalypse is ridiculous. Unfortunately, though, too many people in today’s world need to be reminded not to be stupid.

In the Midwest, I’ll admit I was one of those people. See, out there, local stations broke into prime time programming frequently in the spring and fall and interrupted some of my favorite TV shows to “break the news” that rain was on the way.

Yes. Rain.

Being on the fringes of Tornado Alley, any rainstorm in Iowa always has potential to turn into something bigger. Still, not every rainstorm was necessarily a newsworthy event. 

There was one time I can recall the tornado sirens in downtown Des Moines sounding and my curiosity getting the best of me as I ventured onto the balcony of our eighth-floor apartment. Looking to the north toward the airport, I could see a wall cloud forming. 

Looking back, that was not the smartest thing to do.

After all, the local stations were warning everyone to stay indoors and that major torrential downpours were on their way. The rain did, in fact, reach us. And it lasted quite a while. The wall cloud, however, did not fully form into a tornado.

In getting information for the story on the front page today, I asked a meteorologist at Buffalo’s National Weather Service location weather storm warnings were more frequently issued today. He said that is not necessarily the case.

What he did say made sense. Between social media and 24-hour news stations, people today are generally more tuned in to the news than they have been in the past. He joked to me that 20 years ago a storm warning was issued on the 6 p.m. newscast and that was it, but now people get weather alerts on their phones.

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