With Apologies to Tony Joe White and Brook Benton
One of the really pleasant things about living in the Southeast can be the weather. One of the more disagreeable things about living in the Southeast can be the weather.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I must be referring to the heat and humidity for which the South is so famous, let me assure you that I’m not.
Being a southern boy, born and raised, I’m quite accustomed to hot weather. Growing up in a house without air conditioning does a great job of acclimating one to the rigors of enduring temperatures over 90 degrees.
As far as heat’s cohort humidity is concerned, you’ll need to speak with a Floridian. What we refer to as humidity here in Georgia doesn’t hold a sponge to the full immersion which one experiences from humidity as it exists down in the Sunshine state.
No, the weather which causes me to cast a worried eye toward the sky occurs here as regular as clockwork every Spring, from the middle of March through April. You see, this happens to be our tornado season.
This is the time of year when misanthropic Mississippi cold fronts collide with agitated Alabama warm fronts and in just a few short hours spawn towering anvil top thunderheads which gather to form lines of powerful thunderstorms extending several hundred miles in length. These tempests sweep rapidly across the Southeast like the steam locomotives of old, far too often generating multiple tornadoes.
A couple of years ago, just such a storm system plopped a twister with an attitude down in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Aside from blasting hundreds, if not thousands, of windows out of high-rise buildings, the storm also peeled away a section of the Georgia Dome’s roof exposing some 30,000 or so sports fans who, at that moment, were attempting to enjoy the SEC basketball tournament.
Most of the towns which make up the ever-expanding conglomerate that is metro-Atlanta, now have tornado early warning systems in place. Sirens begin screaming like enraged banshees whenever there is even a threat of a tornado in the vicinity.
I sometimes wonder if these warning systems might be a bit too sensitive. Just yesterday, one of these storm systems rolled through my neck of the woods. The tornado siren serving my neighborhood began to shriek a good 30 minutes before any rain had begun to fall and continued to screech away well after several local television weathermen had declared the “all clear” based on their Doppler radar data.
The tornado sirens are my cue to tune to one of the local TV stations. Invariably, these storms set off a “Battle of the Television Meteorologists” in which each station deploys it’s state-of-the-art weather radar system in an effort to out-do the other stations. With amazing accuracy, the weathermen provide up-to-the-minute reports on where the storms are currently located, where hail is falling and how big it is, and where funnel clouds have been sighted; right down to the naming of specific streets and intersections.
It’s as good as it gets if you happen to be looking for real reality TV. Nothing grabs your attention quite like seeing the radar image of a tornado crossing an intersection ten miles north of your house and following a course which leads straight to where you’re sitting
It can be quite invigorating to say the least.
So yes; give me heat and humidity, but keep those colliding warm and cold fronts, thank you very much!
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photos from Itornado-facts.com and rrj.ca