For the last day and a half most Kansans have been watching the weather like a vulture watches roadkill. Storms are coming and are already here, sweeping over the state in a historic perfect storm (so to speak) of meteorological magic and danger. In fact, the National Weather Service, for the only the second time in history, predicted two days in advance big, dangerous storms — the kind that can spawn and have already spawned — large, long-tracking (on the ground for a while) tornadoes as well as baseball-sized hail. The last time, the weather service put out this word so much in advance was in 2006 in Tennessee (Check out Dr. Jeff Masters’ blog). The result was, unfortunately, 73 tornadoes, 13 people killed and $1.5 billion in damage. Already, there have been 50 tornadoes, all but 20 in Kansas.
So we wait in eastern Kansas after following — through internet, radio and TV — tornadoes that landed already in Langley, near Salina, near Hutchinson and other locales.
The wind is loud, has been most of the day, even as Ken and Drove the line the storms would later follow. Starting Friday, we went to Hutchinson, where I gave a reading (and had amazing Mexican food and a great time with new and old friends), then to Wichita, where, after eating superb Lebanese food, I gave a talk to the Kansas Authors Club, and then skedaddled up the I-35 corridor, home again, home again, wiggily pig. Food, road, weather and poetry: not a bad combination, but a particularly energetic one lately.
The dog paces. The cat walks quickly across the table. We return to our screens every few minutes, step outside and feel the warm, fierce wind; watch the curving over trees and grasses.
We don’t know if it will be a “God is coming, and boy, is she pissed!” kind of night, or a series of near misses. What we do know is that this weather pattern — which Ken tried to describe in detail to me (using metaphors of curved slices of pie and clocks turning counter-clockwise) — is almost definitely going to continue to catalyze weather that scares the life out and into us.
Follow my friend Stephen Locke, who is out chasing the storms. He’s on facebook, twitter and at www.tempestgallery.com.