Every year we whine about winter and wish for spring's arrival. Then Mother Nature shows up in a horrid mood and ruins everything.
She was particularly nasty yesterday (Wednesday, March 25) to Oklahoma residents. A tornado in a Tulsa-area neighborhood killed one woman and twister magnet Moore about 125 miles to the south was hit again.
The March 25 Tulsa-area twister viewed from a downtown hotel. "This was 2 blocks from my hotel & was taken by one of the other hotel guests," writes Gloria Bell on her Facebook page.
This morning, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for Tulsa County and 24 other counties in the wake of the severe storms that swept through the state.
"Last night's storms led to widespread damage throughout a large portion of the state," said Fallin, who visited Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, this morning before heading to Sand Springs, the Tulsa-area community hit by the deadly tornado. "I appreciate the ongoing work of our first responders who have been working through the night to assist those in need. I also offer my continued thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the storms."
If you also want to help with the Sooner State recovery, you have options depending on your location.
Folks in the Sand Springs area can donate food, clothing and water to storm victims at two locations -- Reasors at 3829 S. Hwy 97 and Sand Springs Community Services on the second floor of 114 W. 4th Street.
If you live further out or in another state, you can donate to the American Red Cross, which has set up a shelter for displaced Sand Springs residents. Contribute to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund by going to www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 tax-deductible gift.
Slow start: Just a couple days earlier, weather watchers were noting the slow start to this year's storm season.
Tornado season usually ramps up for parts of the country in March, but before Wednesday's outbreak, it had been 51 days between storm warnings. That's the longest stretch, according to National Weather Service data, since 1986.
Meteorologists believe that El Niño weather patterns helped funnel cold air into much of the country this month, limiting the warm, moist air needed for powerful storms to form. Now that the weather dam has been broken, we'll see if things will pick up dramatically.
In the meantime, if you live in a traditional tornado target area, get ready now.
But remember, catastrophes come in all shapes, sizes and 365 days a year. So you might want to do a little disaster planning regardless of where you live, just in case.
You can find more about storm preparation, recovery options and assistance avenues for both victims and those who wish to help, along (of course) with the tax implications of storms, at the ol' blog's special Natural Disasters Resources page.
Remember, just because this spring storm system has been slow in coming, that doesn't mean is will be a mild one. And hurricane season officially starts June 1, but often those systems roll across the Atlantic or pop up in the Gulf of Mexico earlier.
So be ready now. And stay safe later.