BOBBY HARRISON: Weather is bearer of great joy, sorrow



Mother Nature is a fickle lady.

I know that is an obvious statement.

But the weather can be breathtaking – breathtakingly bad or breathtakingly good.

I have often been amazed and a little befuddled that the same massive body of water that I can seemingly sit and stare out at for literally a day and get a wonderful sense of joy and tranquility can spawn something as deadly and as forceful as a Hurricane Katrina or a tsunami.

The same environment that can lead to post card quality beauty or a chamber of commerce commercial can lead to utter and complete destruction.

There is nothing better than a spring day in Mississippi. Azaleas, a lush green, more moderate temperatures make for spring days that are hard to beat.

That same environment, though, can bring tornadoes that among Mother Nature’s many options might be the scariest. Other weather events often are larger and longer-lasting.

But what is scarier than a tornado? An earthquake? I do not know because I have never been that close to a deadly earthquake.

What is obvious, though, is that the force and power that make up a tornado are truly humbling, and yes, scary, as well as deadly.

And when a rare weather event occurs like what we have just experienced, it can be truly harrowing and humbling.

Following the events from my Capitol office – first in my former hometown of Tupelo, and then in what seemed like scores of other locations across the state – was indeed a breathtaking experience.

True, all the media – traditional and the new social media – make us safer. We can literally know what streets the tornado is heading toward. But to know minute by minute as tornadoes break out here and yonder can also be mind-boggling.

It is almost better not to know if you’re not in the direct path under the assumption that if you know the scope of the tornado breakout, it might drive you crazy. Yeah, I know it is better to be prepared, but I am just saying.

Late Monday afternoon, I knew from past experiences my colleagues at the Daily Journal were working feverishly. I sat at my desk trying to follow what was going on. I dared not call, knowing they were busy and, if they needed me, they would call. After waiting helplessly for a period of time, I decided it was time to go home.

As I walked out of the Capitol, the weather siren was blaring in downtown Jackson. As I stopped to get gas in Ridgeland near my home, another weather siren was going off. But I decided to get gas, fearing if the power went off for a long period of time because of a major weather event it would be difficult to get gas, and the old truck was pushing up against empty.

As I got home I looked hesitantly at the tall trees dancing in the wind just off our back porch.

Like the weather, my opinion of those trees can be fickle. Some days I love them. Other days, like Monday, I literally fear them.

But the weather (in this case tornadoes) occurred all around our home, but not on us. If you were not as fortunate, you truly have our prayers.

There is nothing more random than the weather.

We can’t control it. We can barely predict it, and in a world where we believe in a Supreme and loving God, it is often hard to explain.

It is hard to explain how it can generate such joy and pleasure and such terror, destruction, and, yes, death. It is hard to explain how it can be literally cold enough to freeze someone to death and on the same planet and on the same day hot enough to bake someone to death.

People have been praising and cursing the weather for years.

It is indeed the biggest force we confront on a daily basis, and we often find ourselves at its mercy.

Bobby Harrison is the Daily Journal’s Jackson Bureau reporter. Contact him at (601) 353-3119 or

Click video to hear audio