published Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Tragic consequences of storms

All of us are affected by the weather, fair or foul.

Many people over a broad swath of our nation have been battered by heavy wind and rain in recent days. And the Chattanooga area did not escape tragedy when storms hit yesterday. At this writing, at least one storm-related death was reported in the city, near the airport.

There had been timely warnings to expect “strong and severe thunderstorms” here, but not every possible danger can be avoided.

How severe would the storms be? We couldn’t tell for sure in advance. We had to wait till today to see how much damage the storms had done — though early on we saw blown-down trees and damaged structures.

It was obviously wise to be cautious, to “batten down the hatches” — to use sailors’ vernacular — and not to take needless chances. But ready or not, we have to take whatever weather comes.

Predicting the weather is a complicated science. It is amazing how accurate our forecasters are in giving us warnings of severe weather days ahead of time.

But nature still can surprise us with extremes in wind, snow and rain, and with the devastation that may result.

There has been a great deal of progress in predicting the weather more accurately, but we still never know precisely what a storm system will bring — and we’re still powerless to stop it.

The best we can do is keep a wary eye on the weather and take reasonable precautions.

In the Chattanooga area Wednesday, there was fortunately ample warning to take shelter, or the tragedy might have been even worse.

We strongly hope that we will escape the turbulent springtime without more weather-related destruction.

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