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The power of Mother Nature should be respected

It’s that time of year again, when winter and spring collide, causing cell phones to go off with weather warnings, power to go out and roads to quickly fill up with rain.

Like most children, I didn’t like thunderstorms. I lived in a large, colonial-styled house with a long stairway. At the bottom to the left was a sitting room. It was called a sitting room because that’s all I was allowed to do in there.

My parents were antique dealers and pieces my mother found that she liked and didn’t want to sell went into that room. Everything in it had to be 100 years old at least, including an old painting of a man with a flute. It was the kind where the eyes followed you everywhere, no matter where you stood.

I remember one night during a storm, I woke up and for some reason decided to go downstairs. The house was completely dark. I assume maybe the power was out and my parents were down there somewhere.

As I got to the bottom of the stairs, lightning struck, lighting up the sitting room and as I turned my head, the creepy painting lit up and stared at me. Back up the stairs I ran, straight to my bed and under the covers.

I moved to Florida in 1986 and spent much of that first summer scared to death of the idea of hurricanes. I watched the weather channel constantly. I also started to become fascinated with the afternoon thunderstorms. The sun would be shining and in the distance, off the gulf coast shore, a dark line would form. It would move quickly over land. Within minutes, all  hell broke loose.

Lightning hit so close you could feel its energy. Winds would bend the palm trees almost in half. The thunder boomed like bombs and on occasion, there would be hail and a even a small tornado or water funnel. Almost as quickly as it came, it went away and the sun came back out – usually turning the area into a sauna. This happens just about every day in southwest Florida.

Over time, I came to appreciate the storms and eventually, fell in love with them. The sheer power of Mother Nature was overwhelming. Weather is one of the only things left that man cannot control (unless you ask a conspiracy theorist).

I’ve been known to chase a tornado or two and eventually, my fear of storms turned into respect and admiration in some ways.

While the National Weather Service can tell us when storms are coming or when the conditions are conducive for tornadoes, it can’t tell us exactly when or where a tornado will form. Our spring and fall storms have a decent chance to produce tornadoes as we’ve seen here in Lafayette County over the years.

When a storm hits, power can and often does go out. Having a battery operated radio or having weather alerts text to your phone are good ways to know what might be headed in your direction.

Lafayette County and Oxford offer Code Red warnings to cell phones free of charge and you can set it to receive which warnings you want to receive.

We can’t control the weather, but there are steps we can take to be ready when Mother Nature is feeling a little angry.

Sign up for Code Red alerts at http://lafayettems.com/departments/emergency-management/codered.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com