TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

May 13, 2013

Strange weather the new normal


The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — A lost weekend with endless rain. Two inches of hail in the northern part of Laurel County. Knee-deep grass. Cool, dreary days. And now, perhaps record-low temperatures and frost Sunday night.

We just can’t seem to get any decent weather in these parts. Or any parts, since the Midwest is dealing with floods and the Southwest is in its third year of drought. Perhaps strange, roller coaster weather is the new normal.

Can’t we please just get a little warmth and sunshine this spring? But I’d better be careful what I ask for because it may turn hot, like it did last June, and not rain again until October. At least everything is lush and green—the grass, flowers and newly-planted vegetables. Unless the frost kills them this weekend.

All the rain and cool temperatures have been perfect for my young cabbage and lettuce plants. The neighborhood rabbits sure do like them. Don’t rabbits and cabbage make a good stew? If I didn’t have food issues, I might be inclined to find out.

I will cover my tomato plants and protect them at all costs if it’s going to frost this weekend. I may resort to burning fires near the plants to keep them warm, like the orange growers in Florida. I’ve been on a quest the last couple of years to grow a lot of tomatoes of different varieties, primarily because I can’t stand the tomatoes bought in stores. They are perfect in size and shape, but have no taste whatsoever.

About the only way I like to eat bologna is with a big slice of homegrown tomato. A country boy from Kentucky who doesn’t like bologna? Well, I’ve still got plenty in my system from growing up when bologna was a staple at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table. My family was directly responsible for one third of Kahn’s success in the tubed bologna market. I believe bologna is a part of my DNA.

I’ll stay up and snuggle with my tomato plants to keep them safe and warm, then they’ll probably be ripped to shreds by a hail storm. That’s what happened Monday in the East Bernstadt-Greenmount area when a freak storm dumped about two inches of hail on unsuspecting people and plants.

Residents in that area posted some amazing photos on their Facebook pages. The hail looked like snow. Tomato and strawberry plants were destroyed in a matter of seconds.

I wish hail was more predictable. If I knew a storm packing baseball-sized hail was coming, I’d make sure my 11-year-old vehicle was parked out in the middle of it. But we just never know when destructive fire, ice and wind will rain down from above.

East Bernstadt knows this all too well. It’s had its share of tornadoes, hail storms and other damaging weather. Perhaps it’s the topography or the intersections of west to east currents that nudges storms in that direction. Perhaps it’s due to an old voodoo curse that Lily put on Hazel Green after one of their contentious high school games back in the 1960s.

In any case, East Bernstadt residents are building more storm shelters. Also, churches in the area are growing at a fast pace. Someone should pray to lift the curse from Lily. That’s all that can be done.

Kentucky is known for its temperate climate and its four distinct seasons. Due to the strange weather patterns of late, it’s now known for having four different types of weather in the same week.

We may have to start taking an umbrella on this roller coaster ride.

Willie Sawyers is the publisher of the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at wsawyers@thetimestribune.com