Ok-lahoma, Where the Wind Comes

Posted on May 20, 2013

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Photo Courtesy DON Wheeler, meteorologist and Louisiana Delta Community College's Dean of Technology, Math, and Science.

Photo Courtesy of Don Wheeler, meteorologist and Louisiana Delta Community College’s
Dean of Technology, Math, and Science.

Back in 1990 I lived in Oklahoma, in a little town called Ardmore, situated midway between Oklahoma City and Dallas/Fort Worth. I was a single man, a boy really, old enough to join the US Army but not old enough to buy beer.

One thing I took away from that experience, Oklahoma weather is scary and at times, it’s terrifying. I’ve spent my most of my life in the Louisiana Delta, the deep south where piney forests dominate the landscape. As a result I’d never seen thunderstorms coming in, approaching from miles away, it’s a beautiful sight, from a certain distance anyway.

When I first saw an Oklahoma thunderstorm I suddenly understood why storm chasers risked life and limb running down storms most people were running away from. Storms on the horizon looked like a smudge, like a thumbprint on a piece of paper. The sky is blue and infinite otherwise, the little smudge looks like a gravy spot on a white shirt, a speck of lint on a pale table cloth. 

But that speck, that smudge, doesn’t stay small long. The blue sky recedes, almost like its repulsed by the approaching mass of roiling black clouds. It sweeps across the plain, just like the song says, and before you know it, you’re inside the storm.

That’s what a storm felt like in Oklahoma, what a storm feels like in a place with no forests. It’s a humbling experience, there are no tree lines to break up the wind, no treetops to hide the massive, enveloping thunderheads that were just a small smudge to the west a few minutes before.

After nine months in Oklahoma, I moved home to northeast Louisiana. But I never forgot the power of an Oklahoma thunderstorm. I was reminded again of the awful power today watching the video of the tornado outbreak across the OK state. One tornado was dubbed ‘the biggest destructive tornado in the history of the world’ by an OKC meteorologist.

I once spent a spring on the Oklahoma plains, I would not doubt  that meteorologist for one minute.

If you’d like to help the victims, I always recommend the Red Cross in situations like this – http://www.redcross.org/ok/oklahoma-city

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