Monday storm clouds prompt scientific debate

In the past couple of days I have been asleep more than I have been awake. It’s just temporary because I have been sick, but I have really enjoyed getting out of everything I can to take three-hour naps. Babies have the life.

Anyway, Monday I woke up from a three-hour nap, and realized that sometimes sleeping can be dangerous. The obvious is when your house is burning down. The unobvious is when you wake up having missed two calls on your phone, because you never turned it off silent mode after class. For all you care, your phone could be in China, and the Chinese person who just answered it could have won the lottery, but you’ll never know because you’re happily blanket-mummified.

I digress. The point is not that not answering my phone is dangerous, or that the calls I get are urgent; it never is and they never are. The point is that when I logged onto Facebook when I woke up, and filtered through the statuses, I noticed that the common theme seemed to be fear over a tornado warning. I looked outside. It did seem rather stormy. So after I putzed around online for a bit, reading random articles and checking my email, I figured I should probably call my mom back.

My brother answered, because my mom left her phone at his house. He told me that there had been a tornado warning, and that it was now over.

“Oh, that’s good,” I responded.

“Ya,” he replied.”

“So…tornado warning, is that one where they actually see a tornado?” I asked casually.

He explained that’s basically what it means, although “warning” actually means that on a radar the weather dudes see a storm forming into a funnel shape that might turn into a tornado, or something like that. And apparently “watch” means it’s just really stormy outside, but no strange formations have been spotted. My brother isn’t a weather man, he just knows everything.

The difference between “watch” and “warning” is one of those things I always forget. Even when I was little and the mention of “tornado watch” or “tornado warning” would send me running down to the basement in fear, I never actually remembered the difference.

I mean, on one hand “warning” has more forceful connations, so it makes sense that it would mean actually seeing spiraling storm clouds. But “watch” implies you’re actually seeing something, i.e. you’re actually watching a tornado. Well, maybe it doesn’t always mean that. After all, “neighborhood crime watch” refers to a group of people who are just watching out for themselves and their neighbors. It doesn’t imply that they are sitting on their front porches, eating popcorn, and enjoying the midnight premiere of “Suspicious Looking Ski-Masked Dude Breaks Into House Via Smashing Crow Bar Into Window.”

So I suppose “watch” and “warning” are correctly labeled. I won’t protest the weather authority. Or maybe I’ll just quietly protest; you know, something like sleeping through their warnings.

TESSY PAWLOWSKI

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