News Columns & Blogs

The rubble of Joplin....

……..may just sprout a number of future meteorologists.

Consider Eagle reporter Denise Neil’s daughter, Alexis. They were in Joplin with close friend and Eagle photographer Jaime Green for a family wedding on that fateful day in May 2011. Understandably, Lexi was confused and terrified as the tornado roared past, so close that debris slammed into walls mere feet from where they were sheltering in their cars.

Denise told me several months later that Lexi was still fearful of storms passing through town, wondering if another tornado was imminent.

Lexi just started the second grade, and wrote this:

She’s trying to say “meteorologist.”

AccuWeather Vice President Mike Smith has told Denise that her daughter may well grow up to be a meteorologist, and he could be right.

Many meteorologists – it might even be fair to say “most” – can trace their fascination with weather to a strong storm (tornado, flood, blizzard) that struck when they were young children. For Smith, it was the Ruskin Heights tornado which struck north Kansas City, Mo., in May 1957.

While I did not go into meteorology, I can trace my interest in weather to the tornado that struck our farm when I was 4 years old, in May 1965. I can still remember scenes from that day as if they were yesterday. Like Lexi, I was terrified any time the skies clouded up for months afterward.

I started reading everything I could about the weather so I could understand what was happening – if for no other reason than I wanted to have a better sense of when to be concerned and when not to worry. It sounds like Lexi’s starting that same journey.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s not the only future meteorologist to emerge from the rubble of Joplin.