- Education and Science
The Monster Twister of 1925 and the inconvenient reality of Mother Nature
Not too many days ago our region of Tennessee barely skipped being a part of the Southern US hit by a barrage of tornadoes.While destruction and fatalities happened in surrounding counties we were lucky. Unfortunately several neighboring areas became part of the fatality stats in the unprecedented wave of twisters. And over the past two days we have heard of the devastation that has subsequently struck MO and other Mid-western areas due to another rash of tornadoes. My heart goes out to all the victims and I pray along with my fellow Americans affected by this disaster.
After the Southern states were rampaged by twisters the Climate Change True Believers were quick to point the finger of blame for what happened on their favorite scapegoats- mankind and fossil fuels. But while Al Gore may have been whiling away the hours polishing his Nobel prize down in the bowls of a furnished underground shelter in his Montecito villa, I was thinking about a story my great-Uncle told me years ago, the one of how he lived through a certain tornado when he was a young man making a living in Indiana in 1925. Uncle E. didn't go into it in great detail, as it seemed to bring up some pretty heart-breaking recollections. But it got my attention and surprisingly, it was a subject that wasn't even mentioned in American history class when I was a kid. Recalling Uncle E.'s telling of this event I decided to do a little research into the twister. What I discovered was pretty startling.
It was deadliest tornado in US recorded
history and is remembered today as the Great Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925. Initiating in the MO Ozarks the tornado pounced on the area at a
speed recorded between 56 and 73 mph and its virulent
assault continued for a non-stop 219 miles. It raged through Missouri and southern Illinois areas, finally lifting some hours later in southwestern Indiana. The earthly
damage left in its path was staggering, even by today’s records for a single
tornado: 15,000 homes and over 164 square miles. But the human destruction was
even worse, 695 fatalities and 2027 injuries. Among the dead were 33 children
who were attending a school in DeSota, Ill. The path of this monster twister was recorded at an average of
three-fourths of a mile wide with occasional widening to one mile across. Its
record details set documentation for which modern meteorologists still rely on to gauge
tornadoes for forward speed, length of track, duration and death tolls. My uncle, as did so many among the fortunate, spent many weeks in helping survivors to rebuild.
Now while the events of 1925 in no way softens the devastation of recent weeks, I hope lawmakers, environmental pundits and historians will remember that climate assaults and weather changes and fluctuations -sometimes violent and often unexpected- have always been a part of life on earth and will continue to be so. It is a sad reality that we have allowed industry to exploit the natural resources, often without conscience and often without shame for the consequences. But just as shameless is exploiting environmental concerns in order to advance in political arenas, make a profit in carbon credits or by forcing crappy light bulbs on society. Mother Earth not only has her share of formidable climate forces but also her bounties. If we truly wish to be a species deserving of these bounties and continuance on this earth we don't ride propaganda circuits when disaster strikes but are there to help as we can in the recovery.