I was talking about Hurricane Harvey with Yasmine today. I was letting her know how far I am from the coast and just checking in to let her know I’m okay. While we were talking about that we got to talking about weather and other common natural disasters (i.e. earthquakes) that happen in our areas that scare people not from them.
I was born in an area in what is known as Tornado Alley. The area is known for wind most of the time and a calm day is a 5 (five) to 10 (ten) mile an hour wind. When I was a bit older we moved to the Houston area and one of my funniest memories concerning weather comes from that time.
My mother was out looking for a new apartment for us and couldn’t figure out why no one was willing to show her the apartments. Well she was out in 40 (forty) mile an hour winds and rain trying to look at the apartments. She didn’t understand at the time that this meant it was a tropical storm and no one sane was going to show her an apartment. Where we came from that was a typical rain storm. That was how we were introduced to the world of tropical storms and hurricanes. We adapted pretty quickly to that and got used to the changes in our weather concerns.
Where I currently live is again in Tornado Alley and is where my husband is from. He doesn’t understand why people would choose to live in hurricane zones. I have pointed out that we choose to live in a tornado zone and it isn’t much better.
Tornadoes understandably scare people and make them wonder why we would choose to live here. We love the area is the short answer, and we choose to deal with the weather to stay here. We just know what precautions to take to try to keep us and our family as safe as possible. It doesn’t make us any less scared of tornadoes, but we know how to deal with the chances of them.
We have also in recent years felt the earthquakes that were caused by fracking in Oklahoma. That was a new experience for us, and understandably blew our minds. The first time it happened we couldn’t figure out what was causing our apartment to move. We thought at first a car had hit the building, but found out later what had happened. We have adjusted some to knowing what it is when it happens, but it is still scary even as far away as we are from the main quakes.
When Jenn and I were talking today about Hurricane Harvey, we got to talking about various disasters that we both live under the threat of. I mentioned that I couldn’t imagine living in Tornado Alley for several reasons, but one stuck out in particular: tornadoes happen every year. The thought of having to go through that fear every single year would be more than I’d want to handle. But then, again, we have our own disasters that we live with, and I’ve talked to a number of people who were totally freaked about the idea of living here because of them.
For one thing, we have flooding. Yearly flooding. Live in western Washington? Better make sure that house you buy isn’t in a flood plain. Urban flooding, rural flooding, we have it all. One-hundred year floods happen just about every year, it seems. And then, our windstorms are a yearly occurrence. They start in November, usually, and we usually get at least a couple storms with close to hurricane force winds. In 2006, we had a horrendous windstorm here that knocked out power to several million for days to a couple weeks. It was the middle of December and icy cold. Here are a few vids that I found on Youtube that shows the damage—so many trees came down, so much damage.
We also live in earthquake country. We are on several major fault zones and are overdue for a major quake—by major, we’re talking 8-9 on the scale. Our last ‘big’ one was in 2001, at 6.8. I remember being on my hands and knees in the living room, feeling the floor roll in waves beneath me. It was freaky scary.
Speaking of earthquakes, they replaced the old 520 floating bridge we go over to Seattle on due to a 1 in 20 chance of it going down in a major quake. If you want to see how we get around here:
And another delightful disaster in waiting that we live with are volcanoes. The Cascade Mountain Range is volcanic in nature and in 1980, Mount St. Helens went off. I lived in Olympia at that time, and was going to the Evergreen State College. I was in a cast and they had to shut the elevators off, so it was up and down six flights of stairs if I wanted to get off my floor. I woke up at 4 in the morning with a sharp pain in one ear and I couldn’t hear for two days out of it after that. Mt. Rainier—which overlooks the entire area here—is still very active and you’ll see “tsunami warning” signs in some of the towns closer to it, along with “volcano evacuation” signs. Trust me, you don’t want to be near the Mountain if she has a major lahar or an eruption.
But every place has something, and there’s no place on earth safe from the elements. Because Big Mama plays by her own rules. So, what type of weather or other natural disaster in your area are you used to, but seems to scare people who aren’t from there?