Weather Disasters Making History

From the July 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

The Weather Channel celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with unprecedented coverage reaching into 93 million houses around the United States. If recent months are any indication, demand for coverage could still increase.

With vicious storms flooding the northeast u.s. all the way down to Kentucky, and drought-fed fires ravaging the southeast and western states, no longer do weather channels face the challenge of making mundane weather interesting. Their challenge these days is deciding which crisis to cover.

In April, a major storm system crossed the coast of the North Atlantic, dumping 9 inches of rain on areas around New Jersey and 8 inches in New York City’s Central Park. The storm proceeded to blanket much of the eastern seaboard before it headed inland and eventually swelled the Missouri River, resulting in the breaching of many levees along its banks. National Weather Service meteorologist Suzanne Fortin called it “a major flood” and said it would be in the top three most devastating ever (Register-Guard, May 10).

Just a couple of states further south, rain would have been a blessing.

In early May, massive fires charred the countryside in Georgia and northern Florida, burning over 330 square miles, or 212,000 acres, closing down two major highways and necessitating evacuations. At one point, over 1,200 Florida firefighters—the equivalent of about 1½ army battalions—beat back 236 individual fires.

In the west, the weather is no better. The fire season, which normally starts around the end of June in California, began in March when a fire in Orange County scorched 2,036 acres. Then in May, the Los Angeles area endured two fires—an 800-acre blaze near Pasadena and a 4,750-acre fire on Santa Catalina Island that forced 3,300 people to evacuate.

While the first wave of fires was not of unprecedented devastation in and of itself, the early onset of the fire season sets a daunting precedent for the coming year.

With drought conditions now affecting nearly half of the u.s., the potential for fire is frightening. The more extreme the drought, the greater the likelihood of an equally extreme fire. In the case of Southern California, the past year has seen the “least amount of precipitation ever recorded” (ibid., May 14). Noting the situation, one fire department captain said, “If the weather is any indication, I think it is going to be a big fire year” (California Aggie, May 16).

California’s southeastern neighbors Arizona and New Mexico are currently experiencing the “worst drought in 500 years” (op. cit., May 14). The parched countryside, if ignited, could erupt into a blaze of historic proportions.

Too often, man views his relationship with nature as a battle, doing all he can to offset its attacks with precaution and preemptive strikes such as early-warning systems, more flood-protection levees and forest thinning. But such measures were never meant to be necessary. Mankind, as usual, tries to treat symptoms rather than causes.

God promises throughout the Bible that obedience to Him will result in rain in due season, when and where it is needed (Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:14; 28:12).

Our cursed weather is the result of mankind choosing the way of self-reliance. God said, through the Prophet Amos, “I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it to not rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered” (Amos 4:7). Amos, a successful agriculturalist, knew the keys to receiving rain in due season and was blessed because of it.

We too can receive those blessings—if not nationally, then on the individual level. But at the same time, realize a time of national prosperity will soon come when even the desert will blossom as a rose (Isaiah 35:1).

Until then, you may want to get your fill of the Weather Channel, for in the future there will be no need for it. But for now, it is a sure sign of the times we live in.