Prairie Weather: Powerful And Unpredictable

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GRIT associate editor,&nbsp;<a href=”http://www.grit.com/blogs/blog.aspx?blogid=1850″>Caleb Regan</a>, texted me one evening last week to know whether the funnels that had been sighted&nbsp;several miles southeast of Carbondale, Kansas had crossed my farm. I had seen some weather on the way home, and noted a certain closeness to the air while doing chores, but I was blissfully unaware that tornados were on the prowl in my neighborhood. Sometimes it’s just not possible to keep tabs on Mother Nature down in rural Osage County. Mostly, I don’t even try to keep tabs.</p>
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<p>Back in the late 1980s, I watched a tornado blow up a neighbor’s barn just across the section. I was&nbsp;transfixed by the sight, sound and power of it.</p>
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<p>I was amazed by how quickly it appeared and how rapidly it moved. The thing about the prairie is that most of the time you can see weather coming — all you have to do is pay attention.</p>
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<p>In the 1990s, while cultivating half-mile-long rows of newly-planted South Dakota shelterbelt, my long hair quite suddenly stood up and bushed out from beneath my Stetson.</p>
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<p>I caught a good whiff of ozone as I dove from the still-cultivating tractor and hit the earth a split second before the bolt of lightning obliterated a&nbsp;century-old&nbsp;Cottonwood tree growing in the creek bottom about 100 yards away.</p>
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<p>As fast as that squall snuck up on me, it was gone — poof. Lucky for me, I managed to roll out of the cultivator’s path and catch up with the tractor before destroying the young trees.</p>
<p>Powerful tornadoes, and other&nbsp;damaging weather&nbsp;have avoided my 1907 four-square farmhouse for the past 103 years. I anticipate that the place will stand more or less unmolested for the next 103.&nbsp;&nbsp;If not, so be it. There’s nothing I can do about the weather on my patch of the Kansas prairie. And that’s exactly the way I like it.</p>
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<a href=”http://www.grit.com/biographies/oscar-h-will” target=_self>Hank Will</a>
<em> raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper’s Farmer magazines. Connect with him on </em>
<a title=Google+ href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/117459637128204205101/posts” target=_blank rel=author>Google+</a>.</p>