According to the Connecticut disaster Center, Connecticut ranks 42nd in the country for frequency of tornadoes. That’s a relief to me. I grew up in Indiana, which seemed to rank first. I know that’s not true, but every spring, it was a tornado warning, or watch, three times a week. Ironically, I’d never seen a funnel cloud in the Midwest. In fact, I haven’t seen one anywhere except on TV, and of course in The Wizard of Oz.
Still, we’ve had a couple of doozies here. The 1979 tornado that flipped planes upside down at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks and the one in Hamden in 1989 come to mind. Both were rated EF 4, which is one notch under the highest rating. The Hamden tornado happened the day before my wife and I came back from a cross country motor jaunt. We were gone five weeks and heard about the tornado on the radio on the way to Connecticut. When we got home, we visited the town to see for ourselves. It was stunning. The pictures from Joplin come to mind, but not nearly as large an area. One house sat next to it’s foundation, but it was still mostly intact.
I saw the after-affects of the 1974 Xenia, Ohio tornado, when I started work in Dayton, just a few miles to the west. It was an F 5, as they were called then, before the advanced Enhanced Fujita scale. The downtown was still obliterated in 1975 when I saw it, but drive through the town today and you’d never know what had happened thirty-some years ago.
This crappy weather we’ve been having tells me that anything can happen this year. Our tornado season doesn’t usually start until July, which is when the Hamden tornado happened, but the Windsor Locks tornado happened in October, so be prepared. And hurricanes, man, we’re due. I’ve been through two hurricanes, so I have an idea what to expect, but I’m heading to the basement at the first sign of trouble. Except, I’d like to see one funnel cloud in action before I go to the great tornado creator in the sky. Ideally, I’d like to see it far, far away. Over uninhabited land. Heading away from me.
Exhibit! Stop by the Mark Twain House and Museum to see my exhibit of original editorial cartoon art. “Drawing Fire: Bob Englehart’s 30 years at The Courant.” It’s free and will be up till the end of this month. For more information, call the Mark Twain House and Museum at 860-247-0998. As long as you’re there, take a tour!
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The savage tornado outbreak that killed 117 people and injured over 500 in Joplin, Missouri could just be the start of a greater threat to the Midwest. According to msnbc.com, forecasters warn that a vast swath of the United States could be hit by severe thunderstorms, with a high risk of tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri.