You don't have to be very old (like my bride's husband) to remember Marcia Yockey and her hand-drawn isobars.
The lovable (if not uber eccentric) weather girl for WFIE in Evansville, was nightly entertainment in the tri-state for many years. And, by golly, despite her goofy mannerisms, she dang near always got it right. I didn't really know what an isobar was, but they were pretty important to Marcia. In fact, I just looked it up and discovered them to be "a line on a map connecting points having the same atmospheric pressure at a given time or on average over a given period."
Yeah, right. So now I am still not sure what that has to do with whether I need to take an umbrella or snow shoes with me when I venture out into the cold, cruel world. Like most people, I've always been fascinated by weather forecasts, from Marcia's projections to the long-range outlook in the Old Farmer's Almanac. If the latter is to be trusted (and a lot of people swear by it), this winter will require plenty of layers of clothes, snow boots and stacks of firewood.
As I get older, I've come to believe my body is about as good at short-range forecasting as those folks with the latest Dopler radar. The "ritus brothers," particularly Arthur, sound an alarm in my joints long before the weather radio alerts me to an imminent storm. My nightly routine has always included the 10 p.m. newscast and its accompanying weather segment. Long after Marcia left the air, I continued to watch Channel 14 at 10 p.m. But, as I grew older, something mysterious happened. I began watching the newscast, catching up on the latest, while anticipating the forecast about 10 minutes into the broadcast. The next thing I knew, the guy on the screen was saying, "And that's it for sports."
I blamed the momentary state of unconsciousness on the fact that Marcia was not there to keep me awake. Then we moved to Paducah, where we rely on WPSD to keep us updated. I still doze through the weather segment. The old folks used to complain that, "Everyone talks about the weather, but no one can do anything about it." Debate rages about how man's misuse of natural resources may be causing the bizarre events that have had tragic effects on the weather. A recent idea floating around suggested that setting off a nuclear bomb might serve to quell the killer hurricane that is raging up the East coast as this is written. Wiser heads prevailed to quell the notion.
I am grateful for the accurate forecasting that prepares us these days, though we still can't control the weather. No doubt countless lives were saved when the big tornado slammed through Madisonville a few years back because ample warnings were heeded. Property damage was extensive, but lives were spared when people took shelter.
Satellite technology can pinpoint a tornado in our back yard. Though there are numerous sources that predict weather (sometimes with vast differences), the good thing is that we are warned. Most of us are wise (or experienced) enough to get out of the way of Mom Nature when she turns violent.
I was amazed recently to see an interview with a young man in a place where a mandatory evacuation was in place. He had never experienced a hurricane and was looking forward to seeing what it was like. Not the brightest bulb on the tree.
For us, the warnings caused us to cancel a vacation trip this week that would have taken us directly into the path of Dorian. Our second destination, the Smoky Mountains, seems safe for now. Marcia would have known for sure.
Mr. Tom Clinton retired as executive editor of The Messenger in 2011. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Lone Oak.