I wanted to throw this post out there as just a thought starter and moment of reflection. Just to level set, it's not directed at any one person or a person's comment(s) I have recently seen.
I think as we go into Spring, severe weather season can be exciting and fun. I remember as a kid loving to sit out on the front porch on our swing watching the lightning and listening for the loudest booms of thunder. The more it vibrated my chest the better. I was a certified junkie and proud of it. Now I wouldnt say my love for it ever surpassed my love for winter weather, but it certainly rivaled it.
Three days changed my life and I know all three dates without having to ever look them up... August 6th, 1993, September 18th, 2003 and March 1st, 2017.
August 6th 1993: This day started like every other. I was a teen at the time obsessed with weather and there was a solid chance of severe storms that day. I couldnt wait to get home from school and track them. It was early afternoon when a cell showed up along US 460 south of Richmond, VA and was tracking ENE toward Colonial Heights where I lived at the time. I was so excited. On the old weather channel radars, this thing was a red lollipop on a beeline toward my back yard and then lo and behold a tornado warning popped as well. The whole screen turned red with the scrolling warning and adrenaline rushed through me. 10 minutes later the storm hit and sure enough I heard the "roar" growing in the background. At that point, I sought shelter in our bathroom with my mom. A couple of minutes later the "roar" diminished and the bathroom was in one piece. When I walked out the bathroom, our house was fine minus a couple of broken windows, but I looked down the road and saw several homes completely destroyed. There are two things I will never forget about the F4 tornado that struck that day (called the " Wal-Mart tornado" locally because it ripped the roof off the Colonial Heights Wal-Mart): 1. the screams of the people who were trapped in the destroyed homes. Luckily, all of them came out alive, but with injuries. And 2. the reaction from a grown man I got when I found a broken picture frame in our yard with a photo of him, his wife and his kids. I've never seen a man come that unglued in my life, but I could tell he appreciated the moment like no other because he had something from his past that the tornado didnt take away from him.
September 18th 2003: I was still living in Virginia at the time and was now a senior in HS. The week before hand was consumed with watching Hurricane Isabel traverse the Atlantic. We had been hit by hurricanes before... Fran 1996 & Floyd 1999 come to immediate mind... so many took Isabel in stride. By mid morning on the 18th, the ferocity of the rain and wind that started and would last for 12 hours was nothing like I had ever experienced before. At times the roar of the hurricane winds sounded like the roar of the 1998 tornado. Now while, the hurricane itself was bad, what compounded the situation was a very wet summer. If you've ever been on the other side of the Appalachians, you know most communities are amongst heavily forested areas. I'll never forgot the moment... it was around 530 pm... when my family and I were sitting in the great room and heard the large pine tree in the front yard come crashing down through the house. It felt like and sounded like a bulldozer hitting the house. Luckily, the damage was confined to the attic areas (with some ceiling damage due to rain water). By morning on the 19th, we were able to walk the streets to assess the damage. Many people were not as fortunate as we were. On our street of 25-30 houses, only 6 didnt have a tree through them. 2 of my friends in the neighborhood were displaced for weeks as they worked on rebuilding their homes.
March 1st 2017: This was my second year in NKY after moving in 2015. I was getting ready to go to work and noticed a large line of severe thunderstorm warnings accompanying a very strong bowed line of storms approaching the Cincinnati area around 630 am. I decided to stay at the house until the storms passed and thank god I didnt. We were hit with serious straight line winds. When I didnt venture out around 45 minutes later to go to work, 4 tractor trailers had been tipped over, 2 businesses lost their roofs and countless stoplights/power poles were down. It was still too dark to assess damage on my own home, but when I got home that afternoon, I was able to look. I must have had a golden horseshoe that day because on our street, our home was 1 of 3 to not sustain any major roof or siding damage. The common thing all 3 homes had was the angle of the house, which was shifted inward vs. the other homes that sustained damage.
So what is my point to this long post with a rehash of three stories in my life? For a long time, I used to wish the most extreme events to happen no matter what. Then I watched people's homes get destroyed in a tornado, experienced my parent's home getting damaged in a hurricane and brushed with severe damage on the home I now own. I can say without a doubt that all of those things fundamentally changed me as a person and a weather enthusiast. I realized that every time I cheered on the most severe storms possible, while I satisfied my itch to track and indulge in the science, there were people on the receiving end that lost their homes, their possessions, sometimes their lives.
When I go to message boards across the web, it makes me cringe when I see people having an "aw shucks" moment when the most severe of solutions doesnt pan out. Is this something we should be sad about or celebrate? I'm certainly not one to judge either way, but I ask all to think about that as we go into the season.
Net, my ask is let's be the place that strives to be the latter. While dejecting for the enthusiasts the bust always is, ordinary people's lives and property are safe because science was wrong that day. I dont know about you, but I'll always be able to live with that.
That's my "food for thought" soapbox of the year. Thanks for taking the time to read it if you made it to this point.