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Most powerful force on Earth

By Catherine Twing
On September 30, 2016

The fairgrounds in Great Barrington, Massachusetts after the 1995 tornado. 

Growing up with a weather phobia can be challenging. Because of my phobia of tornados, I have grown up obsessed with watching and learning about the weather. This blog is to share my experiences and thoughts on weather problems and situations.

Storms last a few minutes, perhaps in the case of hurricanes, floods or blizzards, a few hours or days. But their mark on a community can last a lifetime.

My hometown of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, for instance, experienced an F4 tornado on Memorial Day of 1995, when I was just one month old. Tornados are measured on the Fujita scale from 0-5 based on recorded wind speed and extent of damage with F0 being light damage and F5 being incredible damage and loss of life.

The Great Barrington tornado blew through the fairgrounds, across the street through a grocery store, gas station and department store. It took roofs, threw cars and essentially destroyed the fairgrounds causing (a total of) $25 million in damages. It also hit a nearby private school and killed three individuals.

The mark of this tornado, which occurred 21 years ago, is still noticeable with entire hills barren of trees, the fairgrounds with its once magnificent horse track abandoned, and most poignantly, the memorial for the lives lost.

On a larger scale, think of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is still rebuilding and the loss of life and property is unimaginable. That storm alone has changed how hurricanes are prepared for and forecast.  

Weather is a crazy thing because we can’t escape it. We can prepare for days ahead of time, in cases where there is advance notice, and we can take precautions to limit loss of life, but in the end, weather has the power to reshape communities and landscapes. Even if no lives are lost, there is still damage, there is still change.

I hate to go all “weather is bad” on you, because weather is incredible and I will talk about the positives in a future post, but it is a power far greater than any of us. This power and duality is what makes it one of my favorite topics to discuss.

Weather has the ability to distract us from class when it’s finally warm and sunny after a long winter. It has the ability to send us inside when we have outdoor plans. It has the power to take away buildings, trees and roadways. After you read this I encourage you to think about how much the weather affects you on a daily basis. It probably plays a bigger role than you realize.

The Castleton Spartan is the student run newspaper for Castleton University in Castleton, Vermont. The goal of the paper is to inform readers about events, topics and individuals pertaining to the Castleton campus and surrounding community.

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