First Published: 14th of October, 2021. Region 9, Guyana, South AmericaLast updated: April 26, 2023 at 17:55 pm
A tornado is a funnel of rapidly spinning air, or, in other words, we can say that a tornado is a violently rotating column of air. Tornadoes form during thunderstorms when warm, humid air collides with cold, dry air. Sometimes, a tornado may not reach the ground, and form instead a funnel cloud. If you see a funnel cloud, know that you may be near to an impending tornado.
In the year 2019, Guyana recorded its first funnel cloud over the skies of Georgetown. This is not to say that funnel clouds never happened in Guyana before that, but it is possibly the first time that it was actually recorded due to the proliferation of mobile recording devices.
Guyana has long been a land where citizens boast of being free from earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and the likes of such natural disasters. Guyana, since its history of French, Dutch, and British, colonization, has recorded very few if any natural disasters. The citizens have oftentimes boasted of how blessed the country is to not have the misfortunate of experiencing such natural disasters. For one, we are out of the hurricane belt unlike so many of our fellow Caribbean countries. Secondly, we do not have any active fault lines which run the risk of earthquakes, and no active volcanoes with the potential to erupt into a lava flow. In this sense, Guyana, in contrast to having been a financially poor country, has been deemed a safe place to live and known for its exemption from natural disasters.
In the past, the closest that Guyanese citizens have ever come to a major natural disaster is reading or hearing about it in other countries on the news. Yes, there have been heavy winds and some flooding, but nothing of the likes of earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
But then again, we must take into consideration the fact that even 20 years ago, they didn’t have recording devices everywhere like we do now – so perhaps minor hurricanes, tornadoes, and even earthquakes might have gone on “unrecorded” – we can never be sure.
The advent of mobile phones, however, does help us to keep track of every tiny bit of change or natural phenomenon in our environment. On the 13th of October, 2021, the first tornado ever was recorded, literally, over Guyanese soil. Near the villages of Hiowa and Nappi in the Central Rupununi Savannahs, a relatively small tornado swept by – accompanied by lots of lightning and thunder. Thankfully, someone pulled out their mobile device and started recording the event which they later posted to social media, specifically, Facebook.
Innovative recording technology, such as mobile phones and social media, have enabled us to not only record information easily, but to share it quickly, and the video footage of the tornado swept “like a tornado” across social media. If it weren’t for mobile recording technology, this occurrence might have probably flown under the radar.
OK, so Guyana has experienced its first tornado, or recorded its first one…what does this mean? Are more likely to follow? Should we be afraid? We’re afraid we are not in a position to authoritatively answer these questions. What we do know though is that patterns tend to repeat themselves and increase their frequency over time. That’s because the conditions that cause such patterns tend to develop and accentuate over time unless something is done to hold it in check or reverse it.
What we also know is that global warming and other phenomena have been giving rise to changes in weather patterns around the globe. So changes are taking place, and the environment is being affected, and perhaps Guyanese can no longer bask in the pleasure that they are “in a safe zone.” On the other hand, this may be just another whim of nature that will pass by and forever be gone for the next 1000 years. Let’s hope so!