Opinion: Midwesterners should be aware of severe weather

Gabrielle Reese, Columnist

In the midwest, the weather can be unpredictable. There are snowstorms until April, heat waves in November and whatever else Mother Nature decides to throw our way. 

Since elementary school, I’ve participated in more tornado drills than I can count, but never actually experienced a real tornado. There have been plenty of watches and warnings in the past, but somehow, they always dissipate. Midwesterners are pretty used to this occurrence and I think that’s also why a lot of midwesterners don’t take weather reports seriously, since it’s more likely a tornado will veer off in a different direction than actually hit its target. I think disregarding severe weather is a big mistake, and every student at IWU should be prepared. 

This past weekend, McLean county was in the crosshairs of a large storm with extreme potential for tornados. The affected area spanned from Wisconsin all the way to Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi. Reports warned of large hail, strong winds and a large possibility of tornadoes. Apart from dark skies and some scattered thunderstorms, the impact was much less than predicted. The brunt of the storm ended up moving in two opposite directions. While this speaks to the unpredictability of midwestern weather, it is still the same reason we should prepare for the worst in these sorts of situations. The conditions of severe weather changes rapidly and could easily become more dangerous. 

During that same storm, multiple states were not safe from the impending impact and reported deaths across the Midwest and South. According to CNN, there have been at least 22 deaths due to dangerous weather in not only Illinois, but also Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Arkansas reported at least 50 people were hospitalized in Pulaski County due to the extreme weather. Even though the storm barely affected McLean County, there was still devastation in other areas that was just as likely in our community. 

Even if in your personal experience you’ve never been affected by severe weather, there is nothing stopping it from happening in the future. The more we discount weather reports, the more we put ourselves at risk. Protecting yourself and others from potential weather threats doesn’t take over your entire day, it doesn’t take much effort to look up the local weather reports on your phone and assess the situation. If midwesterners at our school make themselves more aware of what could possibly happen, then we’ll all be better prepared to handle the unpredictable when it arrives.