I have a four-day long weekend off, so I am spending today watching horse racing, auto racing and live streaming tornado coverage from Oklahoma, where a tornado is on the ground! Aaargh!
All in all, I am glad I am up here and not down there, but on the flip side this violent sort of weather could well be our situation here in Saskatchewan in another month.
I find it very odd that we are still in March and already talking about tornadoes hitting the USA; usually they hold off for another month. It was a pretty extensive system that hit today — one of the twisters hit the Tulsa area while another hit Moore, Oklahoma, which has been hit by tornadoes so many times that it’s insane. As well, the Oklahoma City area was getting baseball-size hail.
One of the TV stations there is saying the storm was so bad that it brought down the powerful KOMA and KOKC radio transmitter! Their signal is so strong you can hear it easily up here on the Canadian prairies. I guess I won’t be able to tune in to the right-wing American talk show hosts on 1520 AM at night from Oklahoma City for a while.
Folks here in frozen Canada shouldn’t complain about all the snow we’ve been hit with. What would you rather get — snow, or tornadoes?!
In other news the world is in shock over the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps that killed so many people. Saw reports that German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande were there surveying the damage. This story keeps on getting stranger and more disturbing. Some of the latest reports are now saying the pilot may have been locked out of the cockpit! Stay tuned.
The Robert Durst stories keep on coming. Now there’s stories about how he may be linked to the disappearance of a woman in Vermont.
And finally, Jeremy Clarkson was not renewed by the BBC today in light of that punch-up incident involving him and that TV producer. I’m sure fans of Top Gear consider this to also be a “disaster” and “bad news,” but on the flip side, this could mean some new viewers for ITV when they pick Clarkson up.
That’s it for the moment.
Some more news about last week’s horrible El Reno tornado. The death toll is now up to 18 people. As well, the National Weather Service now rates it as EF-5 and not EF-3 as before.
Well, that’s more like it! That rating is more in line with the freaked-out reactions from storm chasers when they saw this tornado develop on Friday. That’s more in line with what I was seeing on the live streams! It sure looked like the worst tornado I had ever seen. It turns out now that’s exactly was it was. According to the weather people, this tornado was 2.6 miles wide, a record width.
Thank heavens this tornado fizzled out before it was able to ransack Oklahoma City! Who knows how much carnage would have been inflicted.
I should also note that the local TV weather people there continue to take a beating on social media for suggesting to panicked viewers they should drive south to get out of the way of the storm. The criticism is that so many of those folks wound up in traffic jams and couldn’t get out of the way.
Here’s my suggestion. Instead of going south, why not go west and move to California, like so many Oklahomans have done before? Then you won’t need to worry about any more tornadoes!
Hey, it was at least a shot at humor.
Of course, by moving to flat-broke California, you are only trading in EF-5 tornadoes for EF-5 earthquakes. Personally, though, after seeing what’s gone on the last two weeks in metro OKC, I’d rather take my chances with the earthquakes.
Welcome to the Bad News Roundup, a new feature here at the blog where we run down all the latest bad news going on in the world. Whether it be weather disasters in Oklahoma, terrorist attacks in London, or deaths of famous people (Jean Stapleton), we’ve got you covered.
Actually, I was thinking of doing something like this around the same time that Angelina Jolie was having that double mastectomy. But then I thought, this is bound to depress the readers. Who needs bad news? Then I realized every item on CNN was bad news so I might as well keep up with CNN. So here we go.
Well, the death toll is in from the Oklahoma City tornado. Nine people killed, and apparently many of the deaths happened on the highway with people fleeing for their lives. A lot of the deaths happened on I-40 west of the city.
A lot of know-it-all-type media people, most of them not from Oklahoma, are now taking Oklahomans to task for being on the road running for their lives, and criticizing the media for encouraging this behavior.
To which my response is: if these folks didn’t have a storm shelter, fleeing for your life is the best possible option in the face of a possible EF-5. Really, your only hope was to flee, because staying in some interior room was going to be no help if your entire house got blown to pieces. After what had happened in Moore two weeks earlier, I also think there were also a lot of panicked people, too. Anyway, all this highlights the need for people to be able to have storm shelters or somewhere underground to hide in the event of an EF-5 tornado.
As for people trashing the storm chasers for their “reckless” behavior, I say give them a break. They were providing a lot of good information to a lot of news organizations and telling people exactly what was happening. It wasn’t all reckless thrill-seeking by a lot of them. Still, I think there will have to be a lot of individual soul-searching by people about how they chase tornadoes after the experience a lot of them had Friday.
We all know that the storm chasers took a direct hit when the tornado in El Reno took a sudden turn in their direction. And we all know the close call the Weather Channel crew had when the storm totalled one of their vehicles, sending them to hospital.
Now we have learned there were actually some storm-chasing fatalities with this system. Among those killed was Tim Samaras, a veteran storm-chaser who had appeared in the popular Storm Chasers show on Discovery Channel. Also killed was his son Paul Samaras and another chaser Carl Young.
Sad times indeed.
In the end, this tornado was rated an EF-3 and did most of its work in the rural areas before petering out. Oklahoma City was very lucky not to have suffered another total disaster — although now the real issue is flooding from all that softball-sized hail they got hit with.
On to other news. I now feel compelled to discuss the situation with Mayor Rob Ford and that gong show of his in Toronto over that alleged video that Ford had used crack cocaine. I call this “alleged” because this video has not actually been made public as of yet, so it could be doctored for all anyone knows. Two reporters from the Toronto Star also claim to have seen the video.
Gawker has managed to raise $200,000 to purchase the video so all the world can see it, but so far, nothing has seen the light of day. As for the rest of the media, the piling on has been going non-stop. Lately, there has been non-stop continuing coverage of the long list of staffers quitting or being fired from the mayor’s office.
I intend to say more about this entire situation at some point when I finally get around to writing a column on the subject for the paper. Overall, I consider the coverage to be a new low for journalism in Canada generally, but suffice it to say that Ford has not helped his own cause here. He could have, and should have, gone public far earlier than he did on the issue, instead of taking his vow of silence that he did. He should have either denied the allegations immediately if they were not true , or taken responsibility for his problems if they were true.
Honestly, if he really does have a drug problem, he should show leadership and get treatment for it, and be done with it. Heck, former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein went and admitted he had a drinking problem, and he survived politically.
The problem, though, is that Ford has so many political enemies right now that admitting any sort of drug problem will be enough for the lynch mob to come after him. Just the other day there was some sort of protest with people calling on Ford to resign. No matter what he does, Ford cannot win. So as a result, we are getting this continuous three-ring circus atmosphere at Toronto City Hall instead. (Also, he shouldn’t have referred to reporters as “maggots,” either. That didn’t look too classy.)
Meanwhile in Ottawa we have the whole situation of Sen. Mike Duffy’s expenses and his pledge to repay it, and this $90,000 gift payment from chief of staff Nigel Wright to him, which ended up costing Wright his job, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s assertions that he would never have agreed to the payment if he had known about it.
This entire situation is killing Harper in the polls, as all his MPs are coming back to Parliament Hill reporting how angry the constituents are over this mess. And this mess continues to fester on with reports of Duffy reportedly lobbying for a Cabinet post and claims he wanted to speak with Harper about his expenses. In all, this does not make the Senate look good and just creates more problems for the government, and counts as more bad news.
That is really all the bad news I’m going to talk about for now.
Really bad news — populated areas in the path of this storm. Also baseball-sized hail. This is getting bigger by the moment.
OKLAHOMA CITY COULD BE IN THE PATH OF THIS TORNADO WITHIN AN HOUR. Weather update from The Weather Channel.
This time it was eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas that got hit by tornadoes today. I was watching Tulsa TV news who reported a place called Broken Arrow got hit.
The last two days, there were storms in Kansas and tornadoes touching down over there. Tomorrow is supposed to be another bad day, too. Aren’t you fed up yet with all these tornadoes? For the longest time this tornado season, things were awfully quiet on the plains as far as storms were concerned. But for whatever reason, all of a sudden the tornadoes have fired up just in the last two weeks.
I sure hope this isn’t a bad omen for what we could be in store for on the Canadian prairies later this year. Our Saskatchewan storm chaser Greg Johnson was in our community here in March during a howling blizzard, and he was predicting good tornado conditions for Saskatchewan. Yikes! Well, I sure hope our storms aren’t as bad as what Oklahoma is getting now.
People are still having a hard time getting their heads around this massive Moore, Oklahoma tornado that killed 24 people Monday.
In retrospect, it is amazing the death toll isn’t higher than it is considering the scale of the carnage there, with entire neighbourhoods completely flattened. It’s confirmed now that the tornado was an EF-5, the highest possible ranking.
A lot of people are comparing the damage to what happened to Joplin, Missouri two years ago. The place looks like an atomic bomb hit it when you are watching on TV, and yet the death toll is as low as it is.
I think that goes to show you how aware people are in Oklahoma about tornadoes and about how well the information got out to residents about the storm. When I tuned into the storm coverage from the Oklahoma City TV stations on the Internet on Monday, they were telling people exactly which streets the funnel cloud was moving toward and telling people exactly what they had to do. One weather guy on the air was telling people they were going to die if they stayed anywhere above ground in the path of this monster storm. So people made sure they were out of the way. Information went a long way towards saving lives down there.
On the other hand — apparently there still are homes there that do not even have storm shelters. Good grief, man, this ought to be a basic requirement everywhere in Oklahoma and in Kansas, too! This is the heartland of Tornado Alley, the place that’s always targeted and hit by them! It’s harrowing enough to live somewhere that is always hit by EF-5 tornadoes, but it’s crazy and stupid if you don’t build storm shelters to save peoples’ lives. I’m with the mayor of Moore who says every new home built there should require a storm shelter by law. It just makes for basic common sense.
That is enough writing from me about tornadoes. I’m sick of them, and I hope this is the end of them for a few days, at least.
I was visiting in Saskatoon Monday when I tuned in the live streams of the massive tornado in progress as it was bearing down on Moore, Oklahoma early in the afternoon.
The newscasters from Oklahoma City were literally going crazy telling people to hide in the storm shelters or otherwise get out of the way, that’s how big this tornado was. A couple of schools and entire neighbourhoods took a direct hit, and a lot of people were killed — about 24 at last report. The story from CNN.
The bad news is we are in for more storms today with North Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area targeted AGAIN. Apparently the Texarkana area is under a tornado warning right now. There are more storm threats elsewhere in the USA as well as this crazy weather continues. Here’s the live updates from the Weather Channel on today’s threats. Stay tuned, folks.