Tornadoes in January? Last year, I would have told you no way. This week, I must say differently. As my mother and I sat on Monday afternoon, commenting on the unseasonably gorgeous weather, we received a phone call that a twister was cited in Boone County. A quick flip to the local news station confirmed. A tornado was ripping through Boone County, Illinois and heading straight towards the town I live in.
I was lucky, though. I returned to my home (still standing!) after the warnings had passed. Some in my area were not so lucky. Houses were ripped apart, trailers upturned and buildings collapsed.
Tornadoes are not uncommon phenomena in the Midwest, even in January. However, as far north as we are, the temperature is usually stable enough to prevent the hot-cold movements that spawn them. The warm, moist air needed to create a tornado is virtually unheard of until late-April storms set in.
The temperate weather than created the tornadoes isn’t simply a weather danger. The temperate winters have become more common, leading to trees coming out of hibernation too early. Last winter, a warm snap brought the fruit trees and bushes from their slumber in March; the weather quickly turned cold again, destroying crops and vegetation. Local orchards had severely reduced crops, and those that they had were small and underdeveloped. Local consumers are hit hard, as well, as the growing seasons become shorter and less productive.
In an area built on agriculture, our farmers are suffering the one-two punch : violent weather that uproots trees, and unpredictable weather that kills them. As much as us northern-Illinoisans love the warmth, for our agriculture’s sake, we hope it will return to normal winter weather quickly to prevent any more damage.