I don’t want to die in a tornado tomorrow. However, I might do that.

If this is the last (read: basically only real) post on this blog, it’s possible I died in a tornado on the seventeenth of March, 2021. However, I don’t want to worry the loyal readers of “Digital gastropub” too much. Here are some alternative reasons this may be the last post on this blog:

It’s perhaps less likely, but there’s also a chance that this isn’t the last post on this blog, despite my death in a tornado on the seventeenth of March, 2021. Some possible reasons for that:

Also, to be clear, the reason that none of the options above is something like “I’ve just posted another blog post prior to the arrival of a deadly tornado at my location on 17 March 2021,” is that I’m specifically planning to not publish any other posts to this blog until any significant weather this week has passed (provided my survival; and even then, much more time may pass before the next post anyway).

Okay, I think that covers most of it.

A decade ago, several years before I moved here, a massive tornado swept through the city I live in, killing over 60 people. The scar left by that tornado is still plainly visible on the landscape. Its effects haunt every interaction I’ve had with a long-time resident of this city. A lot of work has been done to redevelop the hardest-hit areas, but many people are still displaced and at least one broad region, which was once alive and gently flourishing, is still mostly barren.

My partner and I looked for a new apartment when our lease was ending last year. We saw a listing for one in that barren region. We didn’t know precisely where it was before we got there, we only had the address. It was the only building standing on a dead-end street, about a quarter-mile down after turning off the main road. The rest of the lots on the street were overgrown grass or rubbled pavement. A quick look at Google Street View’s historic imagery confirms that each lot on that street held a single-family home prior to the tornado. The sole lot redeveloped following the homes’ destruction on that street now holds that single, sad apartment building.

We didn’t reach out to the rental agency for that apartment. The building, in its desolate surroundings, was one of the most conventionally spooky public places I’ve been. I’ll take a small guess and say: the unit is probably still available.

The current forecast for tomorrow is not as intense as it was ten years ago, although it’s likely that it will worsen by the morning. The Weather Service generally increases their predicted intensity for a storm as it approaches and their confidence in its capacity to do damage grows. Their method makes sense. It also creates a beautifully sick sense of dread, as the forecast released each morning leading up to a major storm creates a bigger stomach-drop than the day before; yellows and oranges and reds and (let’s hope not!) purples are piled atop each other on their little map, alongside increasingly dire descriptions of what might happen. The instinct I (and I assume others) often have is that, as long as I’m not within the most intense region on the map, I won’t be hit by anything too bad, and that the worst effects will only be felt in that deepest red or purple region. This is along the same lines of logic that states: only the slowest person in the group will be consumed by a pursuing bear—applied to a big storm, though, it’s nonsense.

Well, I’m in the worst part of the current map for tomorrow’s storm, anyway. There are 8,120,458 other people in that same bright-crimson region. 

The Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center says there is a 15% chance of a tornado passing within 25 miles of my location during the storm period. An 85% chance that no tornado comes within earshot (these things are loud, I’m told) is pretty good odds; however, we’ve all played Fire Emblem, right? Why take the risk? Why live here?

I’m not aware of any inhabited place on the planet that is wholly free of the threat of natural disaster and the effects of climate change. Earthquakes, dust storms, blizzards, hurricanes, mudslides all happen in densely-populated areas. Beautiful coastal cities across the world will be submerged in my lifetime. Tornadoes can occur literally anywhere on earth. Despite all this, people across the world live happily or confidently or as long as they can. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but tornadoes sure happen a lot around here, more than just about anywhere else.

I guess I haven’t mentioned this part directly yet, but: I’m very scared about all this. This happens at least five times per spring, and usually quite a few more times over the course of the year. Each time, I confront my own mortality and the possibility of a sudden, small, quiet (violent) death in the center of a loud screaming wind cylinder. I confront my mortality at other times too, of course (I do it constantly, I’ll be honest), but these are the only times where I’m faced with random, avoidable, geographic horror: I know I am in the wrong place; will this be the wrong time?

(Editor’s note: Wow! Rereading that, it’s certainly a bit more doomstricken than intended. Ok! Read it in a funny voice or something, I promise the tone wasn’t supposed to be so grim. (Additional note: if I did die, do not read it in a funny voice))