Mass Hysteria

Southern Illinois was gripped with mass Hysteria today when the weather system that spawned the deadly Jopplin MO. tornadoes moved through our area.  There was an overwhelming sense of doom prevalent in the towns and it left people scrambling for the safety of their basements or their neighbor’s basement. 

I suppose it was started by the TORCON.  I don’t know what a TORCON is but I keep hearing about it.  Today we were on TORCON 9 which is apparently bad.  I checked the weather report this morning and it said that there was a 60% chance of T storms and some of them may be severe, but when I got to school it seemed most people had gotten their weather from the TORCON and some kind of weather psychic that knew we were going to have tornadoes. 

Hysteria begin to set in, some schools in the area actually closed because it was storming 200 miles to the west.   Parents showed up at school to take their children from the safety of their solid brick school buildings back to their trailer’s and ramshackle houses.  Activities were canceled and businesses were closed. 

My wife met me after work and we drove to Carbondale to look at cars and found nearly deserted streets.  I knew something was wrong when we hit a few car lots and weren’t assailed by salesmen, everyone had gone home.  Several businesses were closed and the ones that were open were like ghost towns.  The DJ on Q106 even commented on the situation explaining the difference between panic and preparation.  She said the station was being inundated by calls from hysteric individuals with obviously incorrect information.  People somehow knew that a tornado was going to pass through certain towns?   

I can’t help but be reminded of the 1990 prediction of a big eruption on the New Madrid fault.  I was in 5th grade and I remember on the day Browning predicted the earthquake there was a handful of us at school.  Most parents kept their kids at home despite the fact that the prediction had no scientific validity and had been debunked, people still freaked out.

I’m happy to report that tonight, around 8 O’Clock it started raining and the tornado sirens went off, some fairly large hail fell in Harrisburg, along with strong winds.  As far as I know there were no tornadoes in the area today and tonight, and for that I am grateful, we’ve seen far to many natural disasters lately and they seem to be getting closer to home.  I can understand the panic that gripped some people today.  The devastation to Jopplin Mo. is a not so subtle reminder that disaster can strike anywhere anytime, yet I hope people come to the understanding that no person, or TORCON can predict when and where there are going to be tornados, as Ashley said this evening on the radio, there is a big difference between panic and preparation.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Rants, Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mass Hysteria

  1. Hey! I remember that New Madrid prediction! I was working for the phone company in St. Louis at the time, and “they” (not sure who they actually were) brought around some “earthquake fasteners”. Basically, they were little velcro doodads that you used to fasten your computer monitor to the desk. That was back in the days of mainframes only, and the monitors were as big as TV’s.

    I refused to use mine, and kept one for a souvenir for years!

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