This summer will mark my 10-year anniversary of moving to Houston. I don't miss Oklahoma often, but the last two days have been particularly hard. I've been glued to the Internet and NPR, absorbing the news with an emotion that can only be described as helplessness.
|In the map above, my mother's house is on Western just north of 119th. My Grandmother's house is just east of Eastern on 12th Street. The red line is the May 3, 1999 tornado. The blue line is the May 8, 2003 tornado and the green line is the May 20, 2013 tornado, which overlapped the path of the 1999 storm.|
Moore, Oklahoma, the area hardest hit by the Monday's tornado, is my hometown. Before moving to Houston, I lived in Moore for 23 years. I was born there and graduated high school there. Almost all of my family lived within a one-mile radius. I remember, once or twice a school year for 12 years, having storm drills where we huddled against an inner classroom wall with hardbound books opened over our heads. I remember the tornado sirens being tested at noon every Saturday. During the course of my life my family and friends have been very lucky to have never had a direct hit from a tornado, but there have been some close calls. Monday was probably the closest.
As I am writing this, the death toll of Monday's storms is at 24 and is expected to rise. That includes 9 children.
I've seen and heard so many comments, both earnest and sarcastic, from newscasters, online commenters and even from my own friends on how such a thing could happen in an area so well-known for its storms. I've decided to write an explainer after the jump for those who didn't grow up in Tornado Alley to help address some of those questions. Feel free to leave your own questions in the comments.More »