Yellow Bird: Watching the sky for hints of danger
"Early Friday, as dark and threatening clouds rolled in over Grand Forks, I scanned the sky for hints of danger. What I saw last week in the tornado’s wake in the Belcourt and Rolla, N.D., areas changed my thinking about thunderstorms. I am more cautious and a lot more aware of the storms’ power.

As a child, I loved to sit on the windowsill like our big gray cat and watch a thunderstorm. (I’d better say I was young and slim, and the windowsills were larger in those old houses.) Sometimes, I’d have to close my eyes because the lightning strikes were so bright, but I found the storms wild and beautiful.

I grew out of that phase with the strong encouragement of my grandmother and mother. They always were nervous when a big storm came through the reservation. They would pull the shades and curtains and tell us to sit quietly in the middle of the room. I never knew why we had to be quiet because that only added to our nervousness.

Were thunderstorms and tornadoes as common years ago? While it may seem as if there are more, there also are fewer lives lost. I looked up tornadoes on several Web sites. (What did we ever do without the Internet?) The sites reminded me that weather forecasting is a relatively new science. Decades ago, tracking storms such as tornadoes, hurricanes and cyclones wasn’t nearly as precise as it is today. Doppler radar and other technologies have improved our warning systems, and as a result, the number of fatalities has dropped.

Those technologies in combination with radio and TV meteorologists are a tremendous help. We can act accordingly when there’s a dangerous storm in our area."

Get the Story:
COLUMNIST DORREN YELLOW BIRD: Watching the sky with a nervous eye (The Grand Forks Herald 7/12)

More Dorreen Yellow Bird:
Yellow Bird: Humbled by Turtle Mountain tornadoes (7/10)
Yellow Bird: Sometimes the media gets carried away (7/7)
Yellow Bird: Smudging room at North Dakota hospital (7/2)
Yellow Bird: Adventures that stir the spirit (6/18)
Yellow Bird: Exhibit focuses on Arikara Scouts (6/16)
Yellow Bird: My heart belongs to the Great Plains (6/11)
Yellow Bird: White buffalo signals hope and peace (6/9)
Yellow Bird: Sen. Barack Obama for president (6/4)
Yellow Bird: There's good and bad in oil development (6/2)
Yellow Bird: Remembering all relatives a big chore (5/28)
Yellow Bird: Oil on the Fort Berthold Reservation (5/26)
Yellow Bird: Recycle and live lightly on the Earth (5/12)
Yellow Bird: Leaps in America's multiracial society (5/7)
Yellow Bird: Diversity in the United States (5/5)
Yellow Bird: Pollution a threat to North Dakota (4/30)
Yellow Bird: Program graduates Indian nurses at UND (4/21)
Yellow Bird: Recovering from brain aneurysm surgery (4/17)
Yellow Bird: A fight for oil on the reservation (03/31)
Yellow Bird: Excitement in North Dakota's weather (3/26)
Yellow Bird: Thoughts on Sen. Obama and race (3/24)
Yellow Bird: Pray for rain in western North Dakota (3/19)
Yellow Bird: Grandchildren are the greatest gift (3/17)
Yellow Bird: UND powwow survives budget woes (3/10)
Yellow Bird: Stereotypes and Hillary Clinton (3/5)
Yellow Bird: Celebrating 125 years of UND history (3/3)
Yellow Bird: High hopes for Indian health bill (2/28)
Yellow Bird: More Plains foods that are good for you (2/25)
Yellow Bird: Chokecherries, the wonder fruit (2/20)
Yellow Bird: Sadness on a trip to Standing Rock (2/18)
Yellow Bird: It's time for a change in music (2/11)
Yellow Bird: 'Sioux' drives Indian students away (2/7)
Yellow Bird: Another cold January in North Dakota (1/30)
Yellow Bird: Tribal casinos should be alcohol free (1/28)
Yellow Bird: Race and gender in presidential race (1/23)
Yellow Bird: Barack Obama is my choice for 2008 (1/16)
Yellow Bird: Artman right on off-reservation gaming (1/9)
Yellow Bird: Barack Obama's big win in Iowa (1/7)