Twisters, quakes, the tropics: What’s next?

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Column by Jim Clark

The weather around the country is getting crazier, or so it seems. After a wild winter, the spring has turned violent, and now other things are happening.

My cousin in St. Louis felt an earthquake Tuesday morning, which also happened to be her birthday.

Now when I think of St. Louis, an area I am very familiar with from my childhood visits to my grandparents and aunt and uncle, I think of two weather items … hot and cold.

The summers, and we always went the first two weeks in August, were hot. My grandparents didn’t have air conditioning, so we spent a lot of time in their basement with fans, and it wasn’t too bad.

It’s funny how times have changed. They lived in East St. Louis, Ill., which today is synonymous with corruption and decay. But in those days, late 1940s and early to mid 1950s, it was a great place.

One year my parents let me fly out a couple of weeks ahead of time. I was about 9, and my grandparents had a lot of activities set up. I went to a steel mill one day to see my grandfather work … talk about hot. I went with them to a beer garden one evening and pitched horseshoes with the locals. My Aunt Phyllis, not married then, and a couple of her friends took me to a St. Louis Browns doubleheader with the Boston Red Sox. It was the only time I ever got to see Ted Williams play. The year was 1953, the final year for the Browns, who in 1954 moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles.

Nowadays, if you take a 9-year-old to a beer garden, you’d probably be arrested (no, I didn’t have anything to drink). And who can afford box seats at a baseball game?

Then there was the extreme of winter. I only went out there once, for Feb. 12, 1956 (I think that’s the date), when my Aunt Phyllis married my Uncle Ted. It was so cold that the film in my father’s camera froze (yes, we used film in those days).

But we never worried about earthquakes in the Midwest.

I can’t remember severe flooding of the Mississippi River, either, although it probably did occur at some point.

Those violent tornadoes we’ve had the last couple months seem to be more intense than what we’ve seen in the past. And last week there was a tornado in Massachusetts? For someone who was raised in New Jersey, that’s a little too close to where home used to be.

Now we’re into hurricane season, and already there’s a disorganized disturbance in the Caribbean. Who knows what this year will offer?

To me, there’s no doubt that weather patterns are changing. However, I’m not part of the gloom and doom crowd. In many cases it seems to me to be a natural cycle, one which we as humans have to adapt to.

So get ready for summer, have those hurricane plans ready. For us, it’s mainly wind that causes the damage, since we’re a little far for storm surge to get us. Are you prepared? Don’t wait until it’s too late to get ready.


Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.

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