Feature Writer Karen Crowder – When Severe Spring Weather Upsets Plans

When Oklahoma made news with incalculable damage from an F5 tornado, our attention was drawn to how severe weather can disrupt our lives.

After a dry spring, Central and Western Massachusetts began receiving beneficial rain Sunday May 19. Showers began reviving drooping shrubs, grass and flowers. On Tuesday, we enjoyed summer-like weather temperatures in the 80’s. According to NOAA, weather temperatures reached ninety degrees in Chicopee Falls. That evening severe thunderstorms and pouring rain arrived in Western Massachusetts. NOAA weather and the TV meteorologists were predicting tornado watches and warnings across Western Massachusetts. Leominster and Fitchburg were experiencing thunder and lightning and rain late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. Severe weather Wednesday was a reality, would this change our plans?

Although the sun was shining NOAA weather predicted severe storms for Central and Western Massachusetts by Wednesday afternoon/evening. I phoned Marian informing her. She said she would call at five so that by six we could decide whether to go to the healing service.

My blind friend Claire arrived at my apartment at one. We were looking forward to spending time together and going with Mary and Marian to our parish church in Leominster.

As I was preparing a tuna casserole, meteorologists on TV alerted listeners that Western and Central Massachusetts were under a tornado watch. As the casserole was baking, the phone rang. As Marian and I spoke, we hoped our plans would not change. I reassured her that rain showers would not bother us. We would make a final decision by six and the service was at seven. They lived in Townsend and would arrive at my apartment at six thirty. As the hour passed, Claire and I were glued to the TV and growing less optimistic that the storms would pass by our area. Tornado warnings were announced for Western Massachusetts giving me unsettling reminders of the June 1, 2011 tornadoes and the horrific damage done in parts of Central and Western Massachusetts. Before six o’clock, the tornado warning extended to parts of Central Massachusetts including Fitchburg and Leominster. This would alter the careful plans we had made. When the phone rang, Marian’s first words did not surprise me. “We’re not going, Mary does not want to get caught driving in the storm.” During our conversation with sincere regret she said, “I really wanted to go.” I sympathized and said, “so did I. We can’t do anything about our weather.” We ended the phone call agreeing it was better to be safe.”

The wind began blowing and as we heard faint claps of thunder and the first raindrops I took the fan out of the window and closed the two windows against the growing storm. We made the right decision, driving rain and strong winds were not to end until after seven thirty. As with winter storms, plans can be altered by severe weather during spring and summer months. Severe storms are forecast for Massachusetts Tuesday night and Wednesday. Yet according to the TV and NOAA weather, we may have our first heat wave in central and Western Massachusetts from Thursday to Sunday.

I think everyone will appreciate the warmer weather after a cool spring.

I hope all Ziegler Readers had a peaceful and happy memorial day and will appreciate the warmer summer weather.

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