THE WEATHER: The Day Before Spring

The tides of the upper air were calm as darkness fell. One balmy air mass pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico, flowed over New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas. Cold air edged eastward from the Pacific. When the air masses came together, like rock strata along an earthquake fault, a storm was born.

Lightning's wild blue incandescence lit western Texas, northeastern Kansas and the panhandle of Oklahoma. The storm moved northeast. Before dawn of the day before spring, tornadoes began whirling out of it, like bursts of flame from a moving forest fire.

The little farming town of Fosterburg (pop....

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