Showing posts with label tornadoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tornadoes. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


This picture pretty much sums up who we Nebraskans are.

The photo, by Omaha World-Herald photographer Kent Sievers, ran on the front of today's Midlands section with this story.

To summarize, I think a catchphrase of Nebraska native Larry the Cable Guy will work pretty well -- "Git 'r done."  I don't care who you are, what Nebraskans have done in the wake of a swirling monster's rampage through a small town is inspiring.

Particularly this guy in the wheelchair.

Git 'r done, indeed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This is a tornado

The Associated Press

Tornadoes are not "awesome" vortexes.

They are not meteorological Cialis for thrill-seekers and storm chasers.

Tornadoes are not a cost-effective source of the "Holy shit!" reality TV usually seen on The Weather Channel instead of, you know . . . the weather.

God did not invent them so that you might be amused and awed on Facebook . . . by viral videos shot by storm chasers "ready anytime the moment's right."

No, this is a tornado. Look at it hard.

You might have heard about this tornado. Before its arrival, there was a little town in northeast Nebraska by the name of Pilger, pronounced PIL-gur. After its departure Monday afternoon, there pretty much wasn't anymore. People say it "looks like a war zone."

Antebellum Pilger, Neb., was the home to a little girl, Cali. Her proper name was Calista, but she insisted that everyone call her "Doctor Cali," because that's what she wanted to be one day. She was 5, and "one day" will never come.

Because of a tornado. Writes Erin Grace in the Omaha World-Herald:
The Murphree family was new to Pilger. Kandi, who was raised in Kansas, had spent much of her adult life in Alabama. Then Kay said she could use some help. Les, who is 74, has a muscular problem that makes walking difficult. Kay had to have back and shoulder surgery.

In February, Kandi and the girls moved from Alabama to Pilger, into the Labenz home at 200 S. Main St., to help out.
A couple of months later, Kandi got her own place, a three-bedroom trailer about a block away, at 100 N. Main St.
Having everyone so close was a blessing. Kay and Les got to spend time with the kids. Kandi got help with child care.

On Monday, Kandi finished her shift at Prime Stop in Wayne and drove home to Pilger. Around 3 p.m., she picked up her girls from her mother’s home and took them to their place down the street.

An hour later, Les’ son called Kay and Les with a warning. Storm’s headed your way. Get to the basement.

Kay, who had poked her head out the door, thought the sky didn’t look too bad and scoffed.

Les said let’s go anyway.

It seemed to take forever to get to that basement, and they barely made it in time.

As the sirens screamed, Kay pushed Les up against the corner of the wall, stretching herself to cover him.
She remembers the roar. Then the dust. Then how, in seconds, it was all over.
The tornado just came and went so fast that it hardly seemed real.

When Kay opened her eyes, she saw they were OK. Then she saw their basement filled with other people’s stuff.

Then Kay saw sky and the tornado, moving farther away. The funnel was huge.

All Kay could think about was her daughter and the little girls. She tried to climb out, but Les told her no, she might fall.

An hour later, a relative got there with a ladder, and the two emerged to find their world erased.

Their house was gone. A neighbor’s house was turned kitty-corner and sitting on top of the hedgerow. The co-op grain bins were torn and scattered.

Kay began heading toward her daughter’s place, but the mobile home had just disappeared.

Someone turned her around and wouldn’t let her go any farther.

That scared her to death, and Kay tried to find out what happened. The news, like all the debris, swirled around them in bits and pieces.

Kandi and the girls had been found on Main Street. Kandi was found lying there. Cali was found lying there. Robin was found running, running for help.
PLEASE, go read the whole column in today's paper. You'll have a better idea of what a tornado is than if you had watched a million hours of weather porn on cable TV.

The Associated Press news photo atop this post -- may the copyright gods forgive me -- that's Cali being tended to by rescuers. That's a tornado. And that family, that's what a tornado destroys.

In Pilger, Neb., they can't change the channel. Remember that when you eventually do.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Noah, call your office

We've had a little storm here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.

Actually, we're still in the middle of a little storm -- or, more accurately, storms -- around these parts.

This is the typically Midwestern understated way of saying "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" We've already smashed the record for rain in a day . . . which has fallen in about four hours.

So far. 

And in my part of town, we were lucky. There have been no rescuing people from houses in fire department boats, as there has been in northeast Omaha. There also have been no suspected tornadoes or baseball-size hail, as there have been north of town.

ABOUT 3 feet in the front of our garage got wet. So what -- it's a garage.

And nobody has had to rescue us with an airboat. That's something, at least.

I am, however, afraid to check out the basement.

Nighty night from windblown, hail-pocked, flooded Omaha. The College World Series starts at the end of next week -- let's hope there's something left for folks to visit.

UPDATE: Make that "smashed the record for rain in day for the month of in June." It was Omaha's fifth-highest all-time rain total for a single day.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The hunter becomes the hunted

DOES THIS mean that God hates cable TV? Or was Mother Nature just saying "TORCON this!"

"Enquiring minds," etc., and so on. . . .

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've seen this movie before

So this is what it looks like inside a tornado.

Yep. This looks right to me.

In 1971, when I was 10½ years old,  Hurricane Edith was headed toward Baton Rouge, so my folks decided to keep me home from school. Now Edith wasn't much of a hurricane, but it seemed as good an excuse as any to not bother schlepping your sorry butt to the bus stop and spending the day at school . . . during a hurricane.

To tell you the truth, what we got out of Edith in Louisiana's capital city was more akin to a tropical storm -- no wild tales to amaze your Yankee friends with. The morning of Sept. 16, 1971 was starting to look like a complete kid hurricane-adventure bust. Hell, my old man was even at work at the Enjay Chemical plant.

For a real storm, they batten down the hatches on those suckers. Now who was going to run the camp stove, huh? In the Gret Stet, a hurricane is no excuse not to cook.

So everything was looking OK, which meant, to a kid, that it wasn't OK at all. Thunderstorms . . . meh. The most exciting thing was the street was flooded, and the water came halfway to the house.

Then something happened.

MY MOM was on the phone with my grandma, I think, when the sky went as black as night. I'd never seen anything like that before.

"Mama! Look at how black the clouds are!" I recall saying, just before all hell broke loose. There was a roar like a crapload of freight trains or jet engines, take your pick. There was a swirling whitish, grayish cloud -- pea soup doing the St. Vitus Dance -- out of which leaves, shingles, pink Fiberglas insulation . . . you name it . . . would emerge, stick to the front jalousie windows for a second or two, then blow away.

I was looking out the windows the whole time, transfixed. My mother was crying hysterically to Jesus. There were no tornado sirens in Baton Rouge, and we had no warning until the tornado announced itself.

Apart from watching the maelstrom, I was trying to calm Mama down. The thought did briefly occur to me that we might die.

Then . . . quiet.

THEN THE RADIO, which was tuned to WLCS, erupted with "(Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!) BULLETIN! BULLETIN! BULLETIN! (Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!) BULLETIN! BULLETIN! BULLETIN! (Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!)" It was a "tornado alert."

Thanks for the heads-up, y'all.

Surveying outside the house, the hanging address placard had blown off its chains and was out in the yard. The façade of the house was tar papered with green leaves, and Fiberglas was all over the place.

The street and the front yard were bone dry. Later, we'd hear that some houses the next street over were missing their roofs. And a shopping center and some apartments less than a mile away were all torn up.

The State-Times that afternoon said a "small tornado or tornadoes skipped across the Sherwood Forest area." The official weather records put it down as an F-3 -- not exactly "small."

To me, the Tornado From Edith was a marker -- a dividing line. You had life before the thing, and then life after it.

In life after Edith, hurricanes weren't "fun" adventures. They were damn serious business, and those of us who'd been on the business end of one -- or the twisters they spawn -- stood ready to deck any idiot who thought they weren't.

I've seen things. Look at the video, and you'll see what I saw that day.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alex Jones explains it all

To the best of the non-whack-job world's knowledge, the United States does not have a "weather weapon" it uses to attack unsuspecting cities with killer tornadoes.

I'm fairly certain, however, that the federal gummint has a "bat-sh*t-crazy weapon" it apparently has been testing on unsuspecting conspiracy theorists. Seems to work well. Still, I wish radio could return to more civilized times, when quack doctors sold audiences more useful fare . . . like goat-gland miracle cures.

Hell, televised

Even hours after the fact and hundreds of miles distant, this footage from KFOR television's live coverage of Monday's tornado catastrophe is likely to induce self-soiling. 

Lord, have mercy. God help Oklahoma.

What hath nature wrought?

 Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 1945

What is an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado like? Basically, it's like the blast wave from a Hiroshima bomb, just without the fireball.

Only man would seek to harness -- and now, with the hydrogen bomb, top -- the sheer destructive power of weather at its worst. You would think that dealing with the terrible wrath of nature would be enough of a burden without worrying about the terrible wrath of nuclear physics coupled with itchy trigger fingers.

That, however, is not how fallen humanity rolls. We can always make things worse.

I SUPPOSE this is why I am Catholic. Catholicism understands that the natural state of mankind is tragedy, and that we all inhabit a valley of tears. Thus, this prayer -- the Hail, Holy Queen -- usually recited at the end of the rosary:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣ Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
℟ that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
EVE ATE the apple. Adam did, too, and everything went to hell. This is what we'll deal with until kingdom come, and whatever we do to bring light amid the darkness is not only lagniappe, but victory.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dr. Suck's weather tales

I do not like tornadoes Sam-I-Am; I do not like them worth a damn.

Would I like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like tornadoes worth a damn. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.

Would I like them when I'm home? Would I like them in a dome?

I do not like them when I'm home. I do not like them in a dome. I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere. I do not like tornadoes worth a damn. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.

today's Omaha World-Herald weather story is really harshing my mellow:
The Omaha, Lincoln and Norfolk areas face a high risk of potentially deadly weather Saturday that could include fast-moving, powerful tornadoes, strong winds, hail and heavy rains.

National forecasters issued the unusual alert Friday, saying a brewing storm system places 5.5 million people and several major cities at high risk — including Omaha, Wichita, Kan., and Oklahoma City. The risk is expected to begin in the late afternoon and continue until after dark.

Isolated severe thunderstorms also could drop tennis-ball-sized hail, heavy rains and kick up winds of 50 mph to 60 mph, said Josh Boustead, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office that serves eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

Not everyone will see storms, but those who do could see severe ones, he said.

The timing of Saturday's threat means storms are likely to begin firing as tens of thousands of people leave the University of Nebraska's spring game at Memorial Stadium. Before that, there could be lightning, he said.


Boustead said it will be hard to predict exactly where the storms will pop up, and officials are warning that any storm that develops could rip along at frightening speed.

Weather officials say they believe this is the earliest they've issued such dire warnings since April 2006. Those preceded a major tornado outbreak that began April 6 in an area from Oklahoma to Nebraska and headed east for two days. More than 70 tornadoes were confirmed and more than a dozen people died in Alabama and Tennessee.
THINK kind thoughts about the Plains. Think kind thoughts about our rains.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Simply '70s: The tornado of '75

Thirty-six years ago this month, it was Omaha's turn to be devastated by a major tornado.

It wasn't a good year. What became known hereabouts as "the tornado of '75" followed by four months (almost to the day) what became known hereabouts as "the blizzard of '75."

Both extreme-weather events became Omaha touchstones for "just about as bad as it gets around here."

ABOVE is a 1985 TV report on the 10th anniversary of the great storm -- the F-4 twister, not the paralyzing blizzard. We'll call that the "short version" of what befell Omaha on May 6, 1975.

THIS IS what we'll refer to as the "long version" of Omaha's tornado horror story, produced back in the day by the City of Omaha.

IF YOU really got into those 16-millimeter Encyclopedia Britannica educational films in grade school and junior high, you'll love this. Lots of useful information, but it's kind of like a filmstrip, only without the "Booong!"

You may be too damned close when. . . .

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This KFOR-TV storm-chasing crew's first indication it might have been just a little too close to a killer wedge tornado Tuesday came . . . when?

Not only should you not try this at home, you shouldn't try this professionally, either. This is one case when "killer video" almost really was to die for.

As it were.

As this recent outbreak of deadly weather so painfully points out -- again -- you have to have guts to live in Oklahoma. That's not a football insult coming from this Nebraska fan, either.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

God help the Midwest

The Storm Prediction Center, a weather service division, said a repeat of the deadly April outbreak across the South could be setting up, with a possible large outbreak on Tuesday and bad weather potentially reaching the East Coast by Friday.

"This is a very serious situation brewing," center director Russell Schneider said.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Every picture tells a story

If, as it is said, every picture tells a story, the book on what has befallen the small city of Joplin, Mo., will not be one of happy endings -- not anytime soon.

It will read as a tragedy, an almost unspeakable tragedy.

Early reports from the tornado-ravaged city put the death toll at 24. The Joplin Globe says officials fear the death toll will surpass 100, this in a city of just over 49,000. The stories of scores of lives in that corner of southwest Missouri will read as tragedies -- tragedies that climax in terrifying and horrific fashion.

What story does the above photo of St. John's Regional Medical Center tell? A shattered building once filled with the sick, and with doctors and nurses. A crumpled, upended medevac helicopter, tossed into a sea of crumpled cars -- this symbol of mercy and hope turned into one of devastation and mayhem.

WHAT STORY did the camera capture here, amid the rubble, the flames and the newly homeless? How many stories does this one news photo tell?

How great is our illusion -- our human delusion -- that we are in control of anything in this life. Just a day ago, a self-important hack "theologian" in Oakland, Calif., had the world focused on an Apocalypse that never came. On a Rapture that lifted no one unto heaven.

Today, this apocalypse came in an instant, unheralded and unforeseen. The "Rapture," in a real sense, came for many in the twinkling of an eye when hell touched down upon God's country.

Where is Harold Camping and Family Radio now? Can we recover the $100 million a vain and foolish man spent on spreading false prophecy and apply it instead toward God's mercy upon a small city in a far corner of Missouri?

LOOK HERE. What story, this?

All the king's forces and all the king's men . . . reduced to two brave souls, a sole injured one, a salvaged mattress and a commandeered pickup truck?

How a disaster can come so suddenly and be so big as to overwhelm the capability of civil society, or municipal government?

The ingenuity and grace of citizens in the middle of America amid unthinkable horror and unending devastation?

The triumph of the human spirit?

The desperate fight for life?

Every picture tells a story. Some tell several.

A new, horrible chapter in the story of Joplin, Mo., is being written before the camera's eye. May God have mercy on those who climbed out of the rubble . . . and on the souls of those who did not.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Unction Junction, what's your function?

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The Good Book says there is a time for everything:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. . . ."

When Rachel Maddow was laying into Birther Nation, a doctor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., rightly had other things on his mind.

Dr. David Hinson was working at the hospital when the tornado hit. He and his wife had to walk several blocks to get to their house, which was destroyed. Several houses down, he helped pull three students from the rubble. One was dead and two were badly injured. He and others used pieces of debris as makeshift stretchers to carry them to an ambulance.

"We just did the best we could to get them out and get them stabilized and get them to help," he said. "I don't know what happened to them."

WHEN the Rachel Maddow Show took to the air Wednesday night, scenes like this were playing out all over Alabama and Mississippi. They would be playing out shortly in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.

None of this registers, however, in a special place where politicos and ideologues can rage against the machine unmolested by real life or real people. I call it Unction Junction.

Yes, we need to speak out against the birthers, not that anyone's mind will be changed at this point. But "there is a season and a time unto every purpose under the heaven," and last night wasn't the time for that.

Another thing we need to worry about --
and this might be as good a time as any to do it -- is an ideologically obsessed and hyperventilating media culture that doesn't know its Ecclesiastes.

While we were otherwise occupied. . . .

Wednesday evening, all the cable-news chatterers were chattering away about President Obama, birthers, evil Republicans and evil Democrats.

They were losing their minds over Donald Trump losing his mind.

Well, not Piers Morgan, it must be said.
Cable News Network's resident Brit was giddy over the someday-heir to the throne's impending marriage to a commoner way too good looking for Himself.

As far as we know (and the ranks are growing by the minute), 269 would-be viewers in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky were otherwise occupied. They were dying -- being bludgeoned, sliced, impaled or crushed as massive tornadoes turned the world around them into rubble.

Of course, you would have been hard pressed to notice if you were watching CNN, MSNBC or the Fox News Channel. Lawrence, Rachel, Eliot, Ed, Bill and Sean had bigger fish to fry, better "Others" to hate on than to focus on a bunch of Bubbas being ground up in the worst tornado outbreak since 1974.

SEE, to the media elite -- and to Washington . . . and to the think tanks . . . and to the entertainment industry . . . and to the eternally outraged activists whose continued existence depends upon staying eternally outraged (and making sure Lawrence, Rachel, Eliot, Ed, Bill and Sean do, too) -- we're all The Other, pretty much.

We don't matter, just our money or our votes. And if we're dead, there's no percentage in noticing that 269 of us just got bludgeoned, sliced, impaled or crushed to Kingdom Come.

ON THE other hand, video like this is da bomb. Pretty dramatic stuff here. Stuff's getting blowed up good, and you can cut the dramatic tension with a knife as the meteorologists' voices grow ever more urgent as the milewide Swirling Wall of Death (TM) approaches.

Yeah, with video like this, and with daylight views of all this rubble, 269 dead Bubbas might be worth a second look. Cable "news" might have an opening between the more urgent political contretemps Wednesday and the more pressing royal wedding Friday. Let's see whether CNN, MSNBC and Fox can shoehorn it in.

Rachel can blame it on global warming and the GOP. Sean can blame it on an angry God who's had it with the godless Democrats.

And Anderson can keep the tornadic supercells honest. Might work.

Videotape at 5:30, analysis at 8.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pray for Alabama

This may sound odd coming from an LSU graduate, but pray for Alabama. It's important.

Early reports have parts of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham devastated by a massive wedge tornado -- one about a mile wide and estimated to be either an EF-4 or EF-5 storm, meaning winds likely in excess of 200 m.p.h.

This is bad. Really, really bad.

A violent storm system spawned tornadoes that destroyed buildings and killed at least one person Wednesday afternoon in Alabama, following severe weather overnight across the South that killed at least 17 people.

Tuscaloosa officials reported at least one fatality from a tornado that then tracked north of downtown Birmingham. The metro area has a population of 1 million.

Local TV channels showed a massive black cloud, estimated at a mile wide, moving into Birmingham's northern suburbs and just missing the airport, where flights were delayed and travelers kept away from exposed areas.

The tornado had been moving along the ground for two hours after touching down near the Mississippi border.

In Tuscaloosa, cars were tossed along a commercial street and dozens of stores were destroyed or damaged.

"At first I thought it was a rain cloud, but then the tornado dropped right by the apartment complex. It was one the scariest things I've ever seen," Taryn Cook was quoted as saying by Alabama Live.

Another resident, Phil Owen, said only one store was left standing at a shopping center. "Big Lots, Full Moon Barbecue. Piles of garbage where those places were," he said. "Shell gas station across the street — all that's standing is the frame of the store."

"Please pray for us," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said on The Weather Channel as crews fanned out to search for victims.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

'I make my living off the evening news'

April 9, northwest Iowa. The day 60 percent of
Mapleton, Iowa, disappeared beneath one of these.

You want to know what I hate?

I hate it when storm chasers shoot video of tornadoes -- which they peddle to the evening news, because nothing sells better than video of s*** getting blown to Kingdom Come -- and all you hear on the soundtrack of the tape is these "meteorological professionals" yelling stuff like "Awesome! Look at that! Beautiful . . . we got a beautiful funnel here!"

Listen, I know it's exciting and all, almost getting yourself killed for 30 seconds of video you can sell for big bucks. I get the adrenaline rush.

Still, I think there's a point I need to make here. That being
"F*** you!"

SEE, in the middle of that
"awesome, beautiful" vortex, s*** is getting blowed up good. Decades of blood, sweat, toil and tears is disappearing in a matter of seconds. Gone with the wind, as it were.

In many cases, underneath those "awesome" storms, people are being hurt. Some killed.

Killed dead. And dead is forever, which goes on a lot longer than the minute and a half any particular annihilation of worlds
(and trailer parks) gets on the network news. In the latest tornado outbreak across the South on Thursday and Friday, 17 people are dead so far.

Awesome. Beautiful.

One can only hope a storm chaser got long-range footage of their deaths, so at least these poor souls will not have died in vain . . . right? It's kind of like the thrilling end of Howard Beale in Network, only without the moral complication of paying Maoist guerrillas to deliver the ratings.

HERE'S ANOTHER thing wiped out by the savage winds last week -- history. Physical manifestations of a region's culture. A man's life work. Maybe jobs, too . . . for good.

Never heard of Malaco Records in Jackson, Miss., that chunk of history and culture that bought the farm in the big wind? I'll bet you've heard what came forth from there.

WLBT television in Jackson reports:

A piece of Mississippi history was virtually blown away by Friday's destructive storms. Internationally acclaimed Malaco Records on Northside Drive in Jackson was almost reduced to rubble and now the owners are wondering whether they will rebuild after 44 years.

It was 3 years ago this month that Malaco Records was honored with an official marker recognizing it as a Jackson landmark along the Mississippi Blues Trail. The company was founded in 1962 and located on Northside Drive in 1967.

Now, that marker is almost the only thing left standing. A powerful tornado shredded two of the three buildings in the compound. Wolf Stephenson, one of Malaco's founders, was inside with about 15 employees, winding down for the weekend.

Stephenson said, "We started seeing limbs and debris flying through the air and decided we better take cover."


Stephenson says the warehouse can probably be saved. As for the rest of Malaco Records:

"Well, the buildings are old. It's a real tricky question as to whether or not it's worth rebuilding.", said Stephenson.

IT'S just awesome when we get a whole tornado outbreak to make our day, right?

Cue Don Henley. Again.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is it a twister, or is it just Clovis?

I hear a tornado done hit Yazoo City, Miss., this evening. That's the second one this year.

I always worry about bad weather like that in Yazoo City. There's always the chance that folks will hear the big roar coming and just mistake it for Clovis Ledbetter walking down the road.

Well, at least they can get his brother Marcel to cut up all the debris. And then Clovis can haul it off.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

June is bustin' out all over . . . Doppler radar

Welcome to June in the Midwest.

This, in particular, is how the last month of spring is being ushered in here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.

You have your dark, ominous clouds. You have the weather radio going off. You have the local television stations dropping everything to track the storms and relate an ongoing stream of thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

And you wonder what you might have time to grab just in case you have to make a mad dash for the basement.

Yes, dogs, you are on the list of things to grab.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thanks for the info

It's pretty clear from a quick survey of Twitter messages from southeast Louisiana -- as well as from across Alabama and Mississippi -- that there's a severe tornado outbreak afoot.

For example, various tweets from across the southern half of Baton Rouge unequivocally report a tornado strike, with garages destroyed, fences blown apart, roofs ripped off, trees down and windows shattered.

INTERESTING. But how can this be? The local news-talk station is in network programming.

Then again, it is owned by Clear Channel.

Oh wait . . . the news guy just came on with a recorded bit about 40,000 customers being without power. But why would that be? Didn't say.

But let's not single out the evil media consolidator. There's plenty of suck to go around.

This, for example, is what I see when I turn to the web sites of some the ol' hometown's other media outlets. It's 4 a.m.:

NOTHING on the local newspaper's web site. Whoops!

HERE'S A little bit on the Channel 9 website. Very sketchy, no mention of any tornado strike, a listing of area power outages.

AND ON THE Channel 33 website . . . nada.

It's no secret that radio and newspapers are in bad trouble these days. Papers are dropping dead left and right, and American radio is in hospice care.

On a regular basis now, we hear some newspaper executive somewhere -- gasping a last message amid the death rattles -- warn Americans that we'll be sorry when the last of the ink-stained wretches are dead and gone.

They wax eloquent about the joys of newsprint. They tout the wonderfulness of their websites. They even say we ought to pay for their Internet output.

And those blogger people! You can't trust 'em. They're no damn good. Unreliable.

Twitter? Big time waster. People talking about how long they were on the crapper this morning, all in 140 characters or less.

These new media forms just lack professionalism. Resources. Institutional credibility.

Bloggers and tweeters just aren't big time. Not like newspapers . . . or radio and TV.

THERE'S JUST this one problem. There apparently was a significant tornado -- or, at a minimum, something about as bad -- in my hometown early this morning. Tornadoes are dropping all across the Deep South.

And I didn't hear about it from the big-time, "credible" media. I heard it on Twitter.

Down in Baton Rouge, where there are no tornado sirens like we have in the Midwest, I imagine a lot of folks heard about the twister when their roof started to come off. Or when their windows blew out.

Or when they were awakened by the not-so-early warning of that telltale "freight train" roar coming straight at them.

See, here's the thing. When the "old media" start making claims about being far superior to "new media," it might help a lot if the claims are, you know . . . true.

Achieving that isn't difficult. All you have to do is . . . come closer; I want you to hear this.

All you have to do IS YOUR DAMNED JOB.