Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Nowhere to Go to Escape Threat of Weather

Winter is finally over; many schools are in the middle of spring break, including the one where I teach. And the weather has been, well, March-like. It gets warm, then cold. The sun shines, then it rains.

Springtime brings the rebirth of grass and flowers. But it also marks the return of severe weather season in Indiana. I’ve already heard a few rumbles of thunder this year.

Weather fascinated me when I was younger. For much of my childhood, I remember being very apprehensive about the weather. Most kids ignored it completely, unless it interferes with their outdoor play schedule.

But I remember being terrified of storms. I also really hated the wind, even if it was blowing on a clear day. If the wind was blowing strong enough to make the leaves rustle, it was blowing too hard for me.

It seems silly, looking back on it. But, although I became less concerned about the summer breeze, I still retained my anxiety about storms well into adulthood.

It probably stemmed from the fact that my aunt, who cared for my siblings and me while my parents worked, had a phobia about storms herself. We had quite a ritual every time it thundered, piling up on the bed because it was supposed to protect us from lightning somehow.

Anyway, with storm season at hand, I find that I’m not nearly as apprehensive about this time of year as I used to be. But I still don’t like wind storms. Lightning doesn’t bother me much, because I know I’m safe from it as long as I remain indoors, or in a car.

Wind is still the main threat from storms. Wind can blow your house down, or blow a tree onto it. Simply being inside does not protect you from strong winds.

My early fear of tornadoes and severe storms caused me to consider ways to avoid them. I knew all the safety rules, but the only sure way to avoid them was to move to a place where they did not occur.

There are many states which have a lower occurrence of tornadoes than Indiana, but they still happen. To escape them, I would have to move to the west coast. Even the west coast doesn't escape tornadoes completely, but they are very rare there.

Of course, if I moved to the West, I could rest easier about tornadoes, but I would have to start worrying about earthquakes. And earthquakes have no season, so I'd need to be on my toes all year.

I started thinking where in the entire country I could move and not have to worry about natural disaster striking. The Midwest and South have tornadoes; the West has earthquakes and the east coast has hurricanes. Is there a place I could go to escape?

Probably the safest region to go would be somewhere around Wyoming or Montana. They have a slight predisposition to earthquakes, but then, so does Indiana. They are more prone to droughts, with hot, dry temperatures in the summer.

After concluding that there really is no truly safe place to go, I concluded that Indiana wasn’t such a bad place. It is moderate in almost everything, including its risk of tornadoes. It doesn’t get as hot as the Great Plains or the South. It doesn’t get as cold as the upper Midwest or New England. And it never gets hit by a hurricane.

So, it looks like I’m staying put for awhile.

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