Breaking News Bar

John Homan: Weather-related anxiety is no fun

By John Homan
Managing editor
Posted on 4/6/2018, 1:00 AM

Southern Illinois took a few punches to the solar plexus Tuesday night, but survived a potential knockout blow when at least one reported tornado skipped in and around the region.

The storm left a sampling of twisted metal and downed trees and power lines in its wake, spread out over a three-to four-county area, but thankfully, there were no reported injuries.

This particular weather event was a fast-moving one and kept residents of the region glued to their media sources tracking its path.

While hundreds of homeowners have a basement or safe room they can retreat to if a monster storm is bearing down on them, the vast majority of residents don't have that good fortune. And that can lead to some anxious if not nerve-wracking moments.

Do you run to the neighbor's house seeking refuge or do you ride out the storm, assuming your home will be spared? In fact, there may not even be a neighbor nearby.

Decades ago, all you could hope for was a siren sounding letting you know that a twister had been spotted and that you and your loved ones had better be seeking cover.

Today, much has changed.

Local meteorologists are more technologically equipped and trained than ever before to give the viewer/listener the most precise description of what is happening around them and what is likely to happen. That advance notice can sometimes make the difference in living or dying.

Most of the time, people know exactly what time the storm will pass through town and how long it is expected to last.

Doppler radar will also indicate the likelihood of a storm developing into a tornado.

As a homeowner without a basement, I pay special attention to the live weather reports. We are fortunate to have a next-door neighbor who throws out the welcome mat in case dangerous weather is near.

That shelter was not needed this time around as the damage was happening about two miles south and east of our home. The fact that it was still light outside made things much easier to track, as well.

Had it been dark, however, we likely would have hustled next door to wait things out.

While I have experienced some rather tense moments weatherwise in my lifetime here in Southern Illinois (July 1980, May 1982 and May 2009), I can't begin to imagine how terrified people must have been two generations before me when the great tornado of 1925 killed dozens from Murphysboro to Indiana. It is still the most deadly twister on record in the United States.

Folks then didn't get much of a warning, if any, that destruction was Nye, but thanks to modern technology, we now have a much better chance of surviving even the worst storms Mother Nature can throw at us.