Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weather gone wild

The events of the last few months should make us all feel more thankful than ever to have a roof over our heads.

Though I could go in a lot of directions with that comment, I am primarily thinking about the weather. The world has experienced a series of massive natural disasters that have killed thousands and impacted many more lives.

The Japanese tsunami seems like a distant memory in some respects though it only happened a few months ago. An entire culture changed for the foreseeable future because of a strong earthquake and the resulting tidal wave.

Of course, in America, the weather has caused problem after problem in recent weeks. The massive tornado that destroyed much of Tuscaloosa, Ala, turned a quaint college city into a big mess. Any disaster that can cause fans of Auburn and Alabama's football teams to join together has to be recognized as a massive one.

Additionally, because of the rainy spring season, the Mississippi River brought flooding from the Midwest down to Louisiana. I have never gone through a serious natural disaster, but I have always thought flooding must be one of the most frustrating because people have to stand there and watch their lives get slowly swept away.

I do not mean to minimize other natural disasters. They all can be awful. For example, the recent tornado in Joplin, Mo., was an example of how these storms take no prisoners.

Among the hardest hit places in that city was a hospital. Hospitals are essential during these events, and when one gets wiped out, it makes a bad situation even worse.

Not only are the existing patients traumatized by the storm, but the hospital can not assist newly injured people. This type of one-two punch can devastate any community whether it is a small town or large city.

All these events have happened, and we have only just started hurricane season. The season lasts from June 1 until November 30. If events continue to unfold as they have, it should not surprise us if we see a lot of strong storms in the Gulf of Mexico this year.

The bottom line is the events described above demonstrate just how fragile life is. Ways of life can be changed in only a few minutes if we find ourselves in the path of a storm.

We all go about our day-to-day lives and rarely consider how easily it can all be gone. This is not meant as a criticism. We grow accustomed to the pace of our lives and enjoy our comfort zones. I enjoy my comforts zones and do not like to get kicked out of mine.

However, sooner or later, it happens to all of us. Weather disasters are just one way this occurs. And since the weather is not going away, we will always remain vulnerable to what our friends in Japan, Alabama, and Missouri have gone through.

Despite this possibility, weather has always fascinated me and will continue to do so. The power of weather is especially interesting. If The Weather Channel is broadcasting a show about tornadoes then there is a good chance I will watch it. If meteorologist Jim Cantore is strapped to a tree in the middle of a hurricane, I will be sitting about a foot-and-a-half from my television screen.

Weather is one example of life's double-edged sword. It can be beautiful and deadly. It can be breathtaking and tragic. It can be tranquil and terrifying.

There are not a lot of aspects of life that we can say that about. Then again, I am glad there are not many things that fall in that category. Life is challenging enough as it is.

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