Living in Society

Stormy Weather

Screenshot of weather forecast on April 4, 2023.

Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity reported their warehouse in Iowa City was destroyed by a tornado. They sent this email yesterday:

As a result of the March 31 storms that brought tornadoes through towns across Eastern Iowa, our 5,760 square foot warehouse used as the main storage space for our construction tools, supplies, materials, safety equipment, vehicles, trailers – everything necessary to build and repair homes – is a total loss. At this time, we have no plans to stop building and improving homes, especially now that our neighbors impacted by the storms are in need of home repairs. To continue this critical work without interruption in our services, IVHFH is looking to the support of the Iowa Valley community to raise funds and rebuild the Habitat warehouse.

Habitat for Humanity is an organization full of good people and volunteers doing good work. I volunteered on a couple of projects and the spirit of teamwork is infectious. If you can help them, they made a website to donate or volunteer here.

Even though the main lines of storms blew through here during the last five days, we were unscathed.

My first weather learning experience was in the military. When traveling around West Germany in formations of armored, tracked vehicles, both current and forecast weather mattered a lot to operations. Weather reports came down from on high, although from how far up the chain of command, I’m not sure. I remember being near Baumholder, in a tent on a hill, with 20 degree below zero ambient temperatures. The S-2 intelligence officer cradled a telephone receiver in a machine that wrote a facsimile of weather maps on a roll of thermal paper. Mostly, we were interested in precipitation forecasts before maneuvers.

Ever since, I tried to learn about weather forecasting in a basic human way.

The amount and types of free weather information available today is remarkable. It is also easy to use. Once one understands prevailing wind direction and how to read a radar map, it is relatively easy to plan around storms. The more I look at actual weather and compare it to radar, I gain a sense of how the large bodies of water around us impact storms. This is particularly useful when a storm is coming and the lawn needs mowing. A few clicks of a mouse on the computer screen and a person will have a good idea whether an hour’s outdoors work can be finished before rain falls. It’s a great feeling to see the first raindrops just as mowing is finished and I’m heading for the garage.

We have a safe place on the lower level of our home where multiple load-bearing walls intersect. When a big storm is coming, we move a chair there and bring a laptop to follow the storm. We don’t have a permanent space, like a storm cellar and don’t need one.

If you can spare some change, I hope you will help Habitat for Humanity rebuild their warehouse. Here’s the link.