The super outbreak this March of tornadoes will no doubt be memorable for everyone in the ten states that were affected. However, there is one story that stuck out among the rest that will forever brand itself to this terrible swath of storms. Angel Babcock. This poor little girl was thrown from her parent’s mobile home in a field in Indiana. When the news first picked it up it seemed like a positive story of survival. Her death today struck a chord with me and nailed home just what these terrible storms have robbed from those affected.
When she was found there was no one around her. A little over a year old she must have been terrified. Tornadoes are known to move things (even very heavy things) miles away with their powerful wind. How must she have felt? The helpless toddler’s family perished in these storms and sadly, today she followed. It is a wake-up call to meteorologists, politicians and NOAA that for all the technology we have, we are still not good enough at predicting these storms. We have to get better. An entire Indiana family ceases to exist because we don’t have the ability to warn people in advance to seek shelter. Those like the Babcock Family who live in mobile homes are often the most affected because the mobile homes are easily ripped up and thrown by powerful tornadoes.
The current warning models work with the probability of risk for a tornado. It is true that we can warn individuals that conditions are approaching that could produce the strong convection cells that can spawn tornadoes quickly. However, in the Midwest and South, people would need to spend a great deal of time in shelters if they evacuated every time there was a risk of tornadoes. The most deadly of these tornadoes are nighttime tornadoes when most individuals are sleeping. They may not know a tornado is imminent or hear warning sirens. Tornado activity can occur very quickly when large warm air collides with a cold front. At times, there are only minutes between a warning and an approaching tornado.
I am sure of one thing, I don’t have the answers. I don’t know why there have been such massive outbreaks of tornadoes in the United States the last year. I don’t know why we can’t warn people or provide better means of shelter for those who could be most affected by a tornado. I know that I was moved by the story of a child who is not much younger than my own boys, who was thrown by a twister into a field. She died today along with her family a day earlier. Hopefully Angel Babcock’s story will move someone so much that we come up with better safeguards for those in the paths of these storms.