Betsy’s Corner: 21st Century Weather

Hurricane watch! Hurricane warning!

Tornado Watch! Tornado Warning!

Thunderstorm Watch! Thunderstorm warning!

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden knows climate change is real, and she says, “listen to the scientists.” Two weeks ago family members in southern California experienced a 7.1 earthquake! Last week friends on Cape Cod narrowly missed damage from a tornado that left almost 45,000 people without electricity. Were winds really clocked at 110 mph? Longmeadow experienced a microburst in early July that toppled over 60 trees. This little town was in a State of Emergency. Disasters, sirens, alarms, that is why Massachusetts has a program called MVP – Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness. Every week some part of the world is having strange weather. With families spread out across the globe, it seems every one of us is somehow impacted by these disasters involving shifting land, high winds or floods. Could we ever experience a tsunami near Manhattan? Was weather always this erratic or are we just more aware of things because we have 24-hour access to news. Sometimes the weather report is correct, but often it is just plain wrong.

I would like to know when and if a storm is coming. The surprise microburst was quick and devastating, but we missed it since we were out of town for the holiday weekend. Within minutes, streets flooded and branches flew around. Any trees that were sick or dying were easily damaged by the high winds that snapped limbs or trunks like toothpicks. It’s now more than two weeks later and there is still a damaged tree on a beautiful green fairway on the Longmeadow Country Club property and branches by the side of the road. A huge pile of logs and debris was piled up high, adjacent to the Wolf Swamp fields. The DPW worked overtime to clean up the blocked roads and damaged property along the tree belts. Private property owners experienced damaged garages and one house even had a tree go through the roof. Our tree warden looks at the experience in a positive way. It is an opportunity to plant new trees and get rid of risky mature foliage. Perhaps that is the silver lining in this story of crazy weather.

Temperatures seem hotter than ever this summer. So far, we have had many days with over 90-degree weather. The Netherlands and France have experienced several days with temperatures reaching up to 104 degrees. Alaska broke records in high temperatures. Humidity was stifling! This is what some people call Global Warming! It is surely some sort of climate change. It wasn’t like this when I was a child in the last century. Winter weather seems unpredictable as well. What can be done? Each of us must educate ourselves about climate change, fossil fuels and pollution. We need to recycle more and reduce our carbon footprint. Let’s take action to make our planet safer for the future.

What can you do? Let’s start by doing something locally. In the meantime, write the upcoming Special Town Meeting on your calendar. Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at Longmeadow High School. Tell the gas pipeline people “NO” to expanded gas service in our small residential town. Let’s be proactive and positive! Don’t forget to attend! We need all of us to show up to get a 2/3 majority vote! Our state should say no to more gas pipelines. I hope you agree.

Betsy Huber Port is a member of the Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group. The views expressed in Betsy’s Corner are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Longmeadow News or Reminder Publishing LLC.