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The Suburbanite
  • No derecho, but don’t assume it can’t happen

  • The issue: Heeding weather forecasts

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  • The issue: Heeding weather forecasts
    Last summer, the exotic word “derecho” (Spanish for “straight ahead” or “direct”) made its way into many Americans’ vocabulary with lightning speed.
    It’s no wonder. The June 2012 storm that packed winds of up to 90 mph, traveled 800 miles, lasted 18 hours, shed hail nearly 3 inches across and left 22 people dead does deserve its own attention-getting classification.
    Fast-forward to early last week. It’s no wonder Stark Countians and other Midwesterners felt some anxiety as meteorologists speculated about whether conditions would be right for another derecho in Northeast Ohio late Wednesday or early Thursday.
    Mercifully, it did not happen.
    The winds were strong enough to bring down trees and knock out power to more than 5,300 AEP and Ohio Edison customers, but neither the storm’s intensity nor its duration lived up to the predictions.
    Anyone who has lived in Northeast Ohio for more than a year or two would consider the storm unmemorable. Thank God for that.
    But human nature being what it is, our relief can easily turn to disbelief. The weather experts exaggerated, some hyped the storm for TV ratings, we might be thinking.
    We should be on guard against this “cry wolf” syndrome. A derecho is the epitome of unpredictability. Heaven knows miscalculations by experts can be annoying and inconvenient. But miscalculations by people who wind up in such a storm’s path can be dangerous, even fatal.
    The only sensible response to this skepticism: Better to be safe than sorry.