Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Weather "Gods" Are Stirring

The sun is finally out, playing peek-a-boo between the clouds. It feels wonderful, like a reprieve from a punishment that we knew we were getting, but didn't understand why.

It's been an odd year, weatherwise, here in south central Kansas. At least, it seems that way to me. We've had 80 degree weather in February, 6-8" of snow bracketed by ice that stayed on the ground for weeks, several 3" rains, and now a seemingly endless series of strong storms, rain and, most scarily, major tornadoes. Many schools have even been shut down across the state, due to flooding. I can't ever remember hearing about that occurring on such a widespread basis before.

My brother called me on Sunday to tease me about carrying the bad weather from the Gulf Coast to the Central Plains when we moved. Sometimes it feels like he's right.

I know that any one of these events - warm weather in mid-February, snow & ice, strong storms, floods, tornadoes - is quite normal for Kansas. Even a couple of them in the same year wouldn't be unusual. That's what makes living in a prairie state such a challenge. But the continuous assault this year feels abnormal. Then again, maybe I just got soft, living on the Gulf Coast.

Somehow I feel like I should be able to find some philosophical truth in all of this, but I can't. Certainly my heart goes out to the victims of the tornado in Greensburg - and to the victims of all the other tornadoes and flooding in the past few days...and to the victims of the horrible western Kansas snow storms this past winter. It seems like there's a developing class of weather refugees in this country - people displaced from their homes and livelihoods by extreme weather events, beginning with the hurricanes of the past few years.

As I'm writing this, there are more storms and flooding occurring in Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri. In Missouri, I've heard they're expecting floods in some areas to rival those of 1993. There is a low sitting off the eastern seaboard that developed in cold water, but has now taken on sub-tropical storm characteristics. It's creating high winds and pounding surf. Will it develop further and/or bring major havoc when it comes ashore?

The weather "gods" are stirring. For decades, now, I've heard that global warming is predicted to unsettle the weather. Is that what we're beginning to experience, or is this just a normal fluctuation? I wish I knew. It might be easier to know how and what to plan for, if I did.

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