We got pounded by the remnants of Hurricane Ike yesterday. We had virtually no rain, but a furious windstorm all afternoon, which brought down trees all over the city. As of last night, 90% of the greater Cincinnati area was without power, and the statistics haven't improved radically today.
Frankly, I'm not sure why Cincinnati isn't being mentioned on the national news, except that it may be just too hard to explain how a hurricane can do so much damage in the Midwest.
Obviously, we're pretty happy to have power back on at our house, but there are still plenty of other areas that are waiting. (We lost power from 2:30pm yesterday afternoon until about 3:30pm today.)
In Hamilton Country, the "tornado" sirens are activated anytime there's a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in our area. The sirens are also activated if the conditions are upgraded to a Tornado Watch or a Tornado Warning.
Now you might be asking, "How do you figure out what the sirens mean?"
Well, we turn on the TV (assuming that we still have electricity) to see what the weathermen are saying.
You might say, "But if it's a Tornado Warning, that means that you should be heading for the basement. IMMEDIATELY."
That's a very valid point, and I have no good answer to that, except to say that it would be extremely silly and pointless to run to the basement every time the siren goes off.
You might suggest, "Maybe they should only activate the 'tornado' sirens if there's actually a Tornado Warning."
Another very valid point. Hamilton County says that the sirens are meant to act as a warning that conditions aren't safe outside and people need to seek shelter indoors.
Here's my thought: If there's thunder and lightening and a torrential downpour outside, I would hope that people would have enough sense to come in out of the rain. (And if not, they're probably good candidates for a Darwin Award, and who are we to interfere with their destiny?)
Now returning to the main topic...
So yesterday, we had a swirling, howling windstorm. Gusts were frequently in the 60-80 mph range. I was outside for maybe 20 minutes of it, and let me just tell you that the flying dust and debris alone were potentially blinding, literally, not to mention the risks of being injured or killed by falling trees and limbs.
The storm went on for five hours, and the emergency sirens were never activated.