No loss by flood and lightening, no destruction of cities and temples by the hostile forces of nature, has deprived man of so many noble lives and impulses
as those which his intolerance has destroyed. ~ Helen Keller
Every region in the United States has natural disasters. While the West Coast is known for its devastating earthquakes, the Midwest claims tornados. Earthquakes strike with no warning. Tornados can usually be tracked as to location and timing. Even those who have suffered the effects and loss from these disasters can understand the scientific reason. Some even still believe them to be the result of divine punishment: “The gods must be angry!” I do not think so.
Spring is a beautiful time of year, with mild weather replacing the harsh of winter. This very transition also sets the stage for tornado formation. Cold dry air from the north collides with the warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S., due to its geography, has more tornados than anywhere on earth. Oklahoma sets the record for the highest number of, and strongest, tornados with the majority being in May. So last week’s EF5 tornado, climatically speaking, was not unusual. With the loss of 26 lives, including 10 children, science means little except as the cause of death in Moore, Okla.
Long before the knowledge of climatology and meteorology, or even the NWS, people needed answers to the unexplained. The Greeks, in particular, incorporated their gods and goddesses to better understand weather phenomena.
The following are just a few:
Zeus – King of all the gods. Reigned over the clouds, rain, thunder and lightening.
Aeolus – King of the winds. By request from Zeus, their havoc-forces were released.
Nephelae – Nymphs of the clouds. Drew water from rivers and delivered as rain.
Iris – Goddess of rainbows.
No matter your source, accurately predicting weather along the West Coast is difficult due to the constant influence and interplay of/between the land and sea. Recent example – Memorial weekend’s beautiful clear weather was an unexpected gift, as fog and drizzle had been forecast.
This lovely trend continues into the weekend except locally breezy conditions and higher temperatures – around 100 degrees – will heightened fire danger. By the first of the week, the marine layer moves back in, bringing damp and cooler temperatures. No rain.
Exit May, enter June. The rainy season ends, as we welcome summer.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.