Question of the week: With all the reports swirling about Hurricane Florence, what’s the worst weather situation you’ve ever personally encountered? What lessons did you learn from it?
Jeff Rogers, SVM editor
I've never experienced a hurricane, though I must admit I'm morbidly interested in being in Florida for one, just to see what it's like.
I also have never been somewhere when a tornado has touched down. I saw one hovering over rural Freeport from my window at The Journal-Standard newspaper office when I was the editor there several years ago.
So, I guess the worst weather situations I've encountered have been winter storm events. The one that sticks in my mind the most was a New Year's Eve blizzard as 1978 was turning into 1979. I would have been 13 at the time.
My family was returning from Arkansas, as I remember it. We would have been there, I'm sure, to scout out houses and job opportunities. Our family was planning to move to the Fayetteville-Springdale area. But we never actually moved, which made me very happy. But I digress.
I remember what was then state Route 88, and is now state Route 40 was closed on New Year's Day because the blowing snow. I think the snowstorm had subsided, but there were walls of snow so high on each side of the road that it felt like driving through a tunnel. The wind was whipping that snow across the road.
But, because we were trying to get home from a long trip, we were allowed to drive through even though the road was closed. I remember a college football bowl game was on the radio. And I remember being very, very anxious about our chances of making it home safely.
The fact that we did might have something to do with my willingness to drive through snowstorms today.
Peter Shaw, Shaw Media trustee, corporate strategy coordinator
Hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes and flash flooding have sure kept things interesting, but this story is about weather we avoided.
I had started my freshman year of high school in 1992 on crutches, in a new city, in a new state. My mom, sisters and I had moved a couple of weeks earlier, and my dad (who would split time between Illinois and Florida) had left a few days before.
We hadn’t even made it one week when we fled. Was this a case of a fretting mother, already full of anxiety, pushed over the edge by a bad storm? Well, yes, but the bad storm was Hurricane Andrew.
My mom (who is terrified of flying – that’s another story) got us on some of the last flights out of the state.
One memorable moment was going down an escalator in the Cleveland airport when my sister Mary (then 8) got her foot caught in the bottom of the escalator. I was behind her, and even with cast and crutches was able to pull her out before it ate her foot. Her shoe wasn’t so lucky.
Mary, you’re welcome. Lesson learned: heed a fretting mother.
Jim Dunn, SVM editorial page editor
So far in my life, I’ve experienced no hurricanes, no storm surges and no floods.
It’s been just the typical Midwestern weather phenomena that most other people around here go through — which sometimes can get a bit hairy.
I remember one time as a kid, maybe about sixth grade, I ended up home alone one summer afternoon when a storm struck. I didn’t know it at the time, but a tornado was passing about three miles north of town. The wind and rain I could see out the back window were incredibly intense. Tree limbs were whipping around like crazy. Then the electricity went out, and I was scared.
Fortunately, the telephone still worked, and after taking my frantic call, my grandpa, who lived a few blocks away, said he would drive over to get me. The height of the storm had not yet passed when his car pulled into the driveway, and I ran out into the wind and rain to get in. Drenched but relieved, I was never so happy to see him in my life.
(Yes, I know. I should have just “sheltered in place,” but try telling that to a sixth-grader.)
That experience, by the way, pretty much wrung the fear of storms out of this guy. I have a healthy respect for them, but I don’t fear them.