Tornadoes, fires and floods

You know what a pot of water looks like when it has reached a rolling boil. The underside of the grey green clouds passing over us literally looked like that madly bubbling and churning water.

You know what a pot of water looks like when it has reached a rolling boil. The underside of the grey green clouds passing over us literally looked like that madly bubbling and churning water. The civil defence sirens used when the danger was eminent had already sounded. Police patrol cars slowly went through the neighbourhoods surrounding the precinct station with their sirens wailing as well.

Everyone tuned their radios to local stations to hear the latest bulletins on the path of the funnel cloud.

Moments after hearing a report the pulse-doppler radar of the National Severe Storms Forecast Centre, located back in the 1960s in downtown Kansas City, had tracked the potential tornado-generating cloud to a point literally two city blocks away from our family home, I went outside.

Looking up into those angry clouds, I decided then and there it was time to heed the warnings and head for the relative security of our basement.

This 40-some-year-old memory of a late spring evening in Kansas City, Missouri, remains vivid.

It was not unique though.

At this time of year, every year, tornado season afflicts the region stretching across the south central United States dubbed “Tornado Alley.” Draw a line from the northern panhandle of Texas, up through Oklahoma and across the state of Kansas to Kansas City and you have its heartland.

The wide area on either side of that line holds the distinctly unfortunate top ranking in sheer density of tornados, probably in the world, but certainly in the United States.

The reason for the vulnerability of this prairie landscape to tornadoes lies in the fact of the unique intersection of three wind streams there. Cold, dry air from Canada and coming down from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains collides with warm, moist air pushing north from the Caribbean and hot, dry air up from the Sonoran Desert of Mexico. This trans-boundary combination produces intense atmospheric instability and the resulting tornado-spawning violent thunderstorms.

This year, somehow, seems unique, though, because of the unusually high number of tornadoes and their severity.

The deadly tornado last Sunday that hit Joplin, Missouri, home town as I recall of Clyde Wann, the pioneer Yukon aviator and entrepreneur, was only among its latest examples and the single most deadly one so far.

The US National Weather Service gave it a F5 designation, the most powerful of twisters. The multiple vortex storm packed winds of at least 322 kilometres an hour according to them.

Some folk may attribute the tornadoes, fires and floods this year to an apocalyptic retribution for sins committed by an errant people. If so, prayer and repentance are in order.

However those of a more scientific bent may see nature and man, not a malevolent deity, as their source. One long-suggested impact of global warming sees an increase in the violence, severity and unpredictability of weather patterns. The finger of responsibility for this points square at us, and our excess carbon generating resource profligacy.

Instead of prayer, or maybe along with it, we should invoke the precautionary principle. As it states with the lack of a political or societal acceptance of the scientific consensus that our actions cause harm, the proper course of action demands that we cease the potentially dangerous or harmful activities until we do know for sure. This summer offers a great opportunity for us Yukoners to cut down on our carbon emissions. Make paddling, pedaling and pounding the pavement our practical prayer for a stable environment.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

Just Posted

Silver rules out HST, layoffs and royalty changes

Yukon’s financial advisory panel has released its final report

City of Whitehorse budgets $30M for infrastructure over four years

‘I think we’re concentrating on the most important things’

Yukon community liaison for MMIWG inquiry fired

Melissa Carlick, the Whitehorse-based community liaison officer for the national Missing and… Continue reading

Yukon man holds no grudge after being attacked by bison

‘The poor guy was only trying to fend off someone who he knew was trying to kill him’

Straight and true: the story of the Yukon colours

Michael Gates | History Hunter Last week, I participated in the 150th… Continue reading

Get ready to tumble: Whitehorse’s Polarettes to flip out at fundraiser

‘There’s a mandatory five-minute break at the end, just so people don’t fall over’

Alaska’s governor goes to China

There are very different rules for resource projects depending on which side of the border you’re on

Yukon survey shows broad support for legal pot

But there’s no consensus on retail and distribution models

Yukon government releases survey on the territory’s liquor laws

Changes could include allowing sale of booze in grocery stores

Get family consent before moving patients to other hospitals: NDP critic

‘Where is the respect and where is the dignity?’

Bill C-17 passes third reading in House of Commons

The bill, which will repeal controversial amendments made to YESAA by Bill S-6, will now go to Senate

White Pass and Yukon Route musical chugs on without director

The cast and crew of Stonecliff are pushing forward without Conrad Boyce, who went on medical leave

Most Read