On Monday night and Tuesday morning, a vicious series of at least 17 tornadoes ripped through central Ohio and Indiana, killing at least one person and injuring about 90 in one of the Midwest’s most severe weather events of the season.
As the Columbus Dispatch reported on Wednesday, President Donald Trump called Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to express his sympathy, but mostly to marvel at how Ohio is in Tornado Alley now, and also to incorrectly equate tornadoes with hurricanes. It’s bad enough that DeWine is now tasked with helping rebuild decimated parts of his state, but he has to deal with this dumbass prattling on as well? Per the Dispatch, emphasis mine:
“I saw that you got hit very hard,” the president told the governor. “It’s sort of strange — I don’t think of Ohio when you talk about tornado stuff. You don’t even think about it. I don’t think of it as being hurricane alley. We’re with you all the way, and we have FEMA out there as you know. Whatever we have to do, we’ll do.”
The hurricane mistake might be the verbal equivalent of a typo, sure. The big dumb president said the wrong word. It happens to the best of us. His first point, however, is actually salient in its wide-eyed stupidity.
Ohio isn’t a typical part of “Tornado Alley,” which is usually understood to mean the swath of the country from the Texas Gulf Coast up through the Great Plains states of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. The problem is, Tornado Alley isn’t really an alley anymore—it’s more of a wide street that stretches far east of Texas and encompasses much of the middle South, all the way up to states like, yes, parts of Ohio. In recent years, it’s been moving east, according to a 2018 study. Scientists aren’t completely sure why Tornado Alley is moving and expanding, but suspect it has something to do with both better reporting of tornadoes and climate change increasing the variability of storms. This is something a fully lucid president may have been briefed on before musing in front of the governor of a ravaged state, but that just isn’t the world we live in. The one we have, unfortunately, has a mush-brained president and a high chance of inclement weather.