November 21, 2013

WILLIAMS: Waiting on the weather


---- — I have the cell phone and the Kindle on their chargers as I write this because the Storm Prediction Center has issued warnings of severe thunder-storms for today. Here in the Wabash/Peru/Logansport area, we seem to be right on the edge between High and Moderate Risk for a tornado outbreak.

I have never been one to pay much heed to weather warnings. I take the most basic precautions – like making sure the phone and Kindle are charged and I have a working flashlight. That’s about it.

I’ve never gone to my basement because of a storm, even when the tornado alarms are going off. That’s because my basement is a dirty, yucky place filled with spiders (at least, I imagine spiders although I don’t think I’ve ever seen one). A more miserable place to wait out a storm, I can’t imagine. I’d rather take my chances up here, lying on the sofa, covered up with an afghan. If I end up in Oz, well, so be it.

I think I preferred the time when every weather event was a surprise. I can remember when farmers watched the sky, hoping to see portents of rain.

Now they watch The Weather Channel. I can remember when we saw the first snowflakes began to fall and had no clue whether they would amount to an inch or become a full-fledged snowstorm, piling up to a foot.

We used to go by weather proverbs and signals. We knew it was going to be a bad winter if hornets built their nests low, a mild winter if they built them high. The darker the caterpillars, the worse the winter.

Leaves falling early signaled an easy winter; if they fell late, it would be a hard one.

“No weather be ill, if the wind be still.”

“Cow’s tails to west, weather be best; cow tails to east, weather be least.”

“Red sky at morning, a sailor’s warning; red sky at night, a sailor’s delight.”

Were our forefather’s weather forecasting methods always accurate? Maybe not but ours aren’t always on target either. How many times have store shelves been emptied due to predictions of a bad storm, only for customers to discover they had bought extra milk, bread and toilet paper for nothing?

It seems our weather is becoming increasingly violent. The tornado in Moore, Okla., earlier this year exceeded all the ones that came before it in width and high winds, then the one the following week topped it.

The typhoon in the Philippines this week was the most powerful ever recorded. Storm Sandy did more destruction to the east coast than any that had ever come before it.

The vast majority of scientists believe man is contributing to climate change but a large segment of politicians, who control the funding and legislation to try to do something about it, pooh-pooh that idea. It seems to me that it would be better to err on the side of caution but, of course, I have no say in the matter.

But, weather is weather – you have no choice to suck it up and take whatever it gives you.

Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at