Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2005 / 4 Shevat, 5765

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Jeff Jacoby
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Girl's attention in class a life-saver | Weather alert machines are good, weather forecasters are, well, usually reliable, but in some cases, your own eyes and brain aren't bad either.

Tilly Smith, a 10-year-old British girl, vacationing with her family on a Thai island, recognized the signs of an impending tsunami from her geography class. Watching the abrupt withdrawal of the tide and small bubbles forming on the beach, she recalled her teacher saying there was about ten minutes from the time the ocean recedes and a tsunami strikes.

Tilly immediately alerted her "mummy," the beach and a neighboring hotel were hastily evacuated, and perhaps saving hundreds of lives. Tilly has forever answered that age-old question asked by every school child since the beginning of the overhead projector: "How will I ever use this in real life?"

In "The Children's Blizzard," David Laskin's retells the story of an epic blizzard that spanned the Dakota Territories, Nebraska and Minnesota. January 13, 1888 began as a balmy day and ended with the temperatures of 25 below zero, blinding ice and snow and hurricane-force winds.

Homesteaders, new to the "land they loved, but did not understand," were inexperienced at reading the open-prairie and expansive skies. None had the benefit of a geography class like little Tilly or the hand-me-down wisdom of generations before them.

Some who survived The Children's Blizzard (so named because many of the 500 who would be dead by morning were children on their way home from school) knew a thing or two about the pattern of blizzards. A blizzard is like a baby crying, recounted one survivor. There is the initial blast, then a momentary lull in which the storm pauses and the baby is quiet as they both suck in more air for the second round. During that brief pause in the storm, a few homesteaders were able to save livestock and make their way to shelter.

Donate to JWR

Few of us know such things today. We rely on crawlers at the bottom of the television screen and color maps in the newspaper. We don't cancel outdoor plans based on a red sky at morning being a sailor's warning. Sure, there are a few codgers making random predictions based on the woolly worm, which turned up in many quarters looking like a bleached blonde this year. But pure folklore does nothing more than cause your serious weather watcher to ask, why did the blonde woolly worm stand in front of a mirror with her eyes closed? She wanted to see what she looked like asleep.

Still, any Midwesterner worth three cornstalks should be able to tell you a green sky at the tail end of a thunderstorm means trouble. Or that when the air feels "close," as my 93-year-old father-in-law calls high humidity, an afternoon storm is likely building.

In recent years, Canadian Geese have had a 100 percent accuracy rate in predicting winter weather in central New York. When the geese have stayed, winter weather has been mild. When the geese have honked one another off battling for air space out of state, winter weather has been cold and harsh. So who are the people tracking the behavior of geese as it relates to weather?

Local meteorologists.

Reliable gadgetry and high-tech forecasting are life-savers, but it never hurts to have a little something upstairs. Just ask the people on the island off the Thai coast who have dubbed Tilly Smith "Angel of the Beach."

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.


© 2005, Lori Borgman