Enough with the tornadoes

By David Lindeman

Contributing Columnist

Enough already with the tornadoes.

It sure seems like we’re getting a lot more of them than we used to. I grew up around here, and I hardly remember ever running for the basement because of imminent tornadoes. In the last few years, it seems to happen all the time.

Every year for the past few years, our grandchildren have visited us in June, and it seems like every time they show up, the tornadoes follow them. You don’t think there’s a correlation there, do you? Maybe my grandkids have some kind of mystical magnetic power that attracts tornadoes.

When the most recent tornado warning was issued, I was a little skeptical. The skies were clear, the rainstorm was over and what were the odds, anyway? But when one of my sons called and said he saw a tornado was headed our way, we made the move. We grabbed the things that meant the most to us – my grandson grabbed his two favorite stuffed animals, my granddaughter grabbed her favorite dozen stuffed animals and asked me to get the rest and my wife grabbed her phone, her purse and the cat. This was a noble idea, but not a good one, because the cat immediately sensed something was up, scratched my wife and made her escape. The cat, who is more frightened of our grandchildren than a simple weather disaster, was on her own.

We retreated to the basement and waited things out. As it turned out, the tornado did some serious damage in Tipp City just three miles from our house, but it left us alone.

But why, I wondered, are there so many of them these days? So I looked it up.

Sure enough, there were only a handful of tornadoes here in the 1950s through the 1970s, when I was growing up. They started to pick up in the late 1980s and recently, at least when my grandchildren visit, they’re about as common as ragweed in August.

Now, you could say there are more people around now and we have all kinds of radars and things looking for tornadoes, so maybe we just think there are more tornadoes because we are better at seeing them. (If a tornado touches down in the woods and no one sees it, is it really a tornado?) But I’m not buying that. All I know is I end up in the basement all the time now, and I almost never did before.

So why are there more tornadoes? I was expecting to find the all-purpose excuse for any weather event these days: climate change. Scientists sometimes are kind of like lemmings; someone gets an idea and they all follow along. Climate change is getting blamed for everything these days. More rain? Climate change. Not as much rain? Climate change. Too hot? Climate change. Too cold? Climate change. Lose your keys? Climate change. High price of gas? Well, Putin gets the blame for that one.

But I was surprised to find out that lots of scientists aren’t ready to blame more tornadoes on climate change. Weather can be very complicated and there are all kinds of factors involved. They just can’t say for sure. It does appear that tornadoes in the traditional “Tornado Alley” region are less frequent while more are showing up in our part of the world.

I guess there would be some poetic justice if climate change were the culprit. After all, humans are the contributing factor to climate change and it would only seem right that we suffer the consequences.

If it’s not climate change, then maybe it’s just bad luck. Or the Chinese or the Russians or the Albanians are experimenting with climate control and we’re the target. I’m sure we can come up with a good conspiracy for this.

On the other hand, we’re going to go to Michigan for a few days with our grandchildren later this month. If you hear about tornadoes showing up around Muskegon, we’ll have our answer.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]