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1186 Being in a Severe Storm

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,186 – Being in a Severe Storm.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,186. Eleven hundred eighty-six. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. You can download a Learning Guide when you go to our website, for this episode and all of our recent episodes, that contains a complete transcript of everything I say.

This episode is a dialogue about being in a severe or serious storm. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Shana: Hey, did you hear that? There’s a severe storm coming. Let’s hope for the best.

Aecio: Yeah, I hope it doesn’t leave a lot of damage. We haven’t recovered from the aftermath of the last big storm.

Shana: No, when I said I was hoping for the best, I meant I’m hoping to catch it on film. The weather forecaster says that their radar has detected a big cyclone forming over this area.

Aecio: Let me get this straight. You’re hoping for a big storm?

Shana: Yeah, I’m a storm chaser. I’ve captured lots of tropical storms on film, and even a small tornado, but never a hurricane or typhoon.

Aecio: You mean you actually chase after storms?

Shana: Yeah, it’s fun. I hope one day to be there for a really big one and somehow get into the eye where it’s calm.

Aecio: You understand that with big storms come strong winds and floods, resulting in the destruction of homes and general chaos.

Shana: I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m just looking for a thrill.

Aecio: Right, just a little harmless fun!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Shana asking Aecio, “Hey did you hear that? There’s a severe storm coming.” Anything that is “severe” (severe) is serious or, in this case, very strong. A “severe storm” (storm) would be a serious weather event, often one that comes with strong winds and heavy rain, although you could also have a “severe snowstorm,” where you get a lot of snow in a short period of time. Shana says, “Let’s hope for the best,” meaning let’s hope things don’t get too bad.

Aecio says, “Yeah, I hope it doesn’t leave a lot of damage,” meaning I hope the storm doesn’t cause too much harm – doesn’t, for example, cause any houses to fall down or any buildings to lose their roofs. He says, “We haven’t recovered from the aftermath of the last big storm.” “Aftermath” (aftermath) is what happens after something else, usually the bad things or negative consequences of something. The “aftermath of a storm” would be what happens after there’s a big storm. “In the aftermath of the big storm, the price of gasoline went up because it wasn’t easy to get gasoline in that area.”

Shana says, “No, when I said I was hoping for the best, I meant I’m hoping to catch it on film.” “To catch it” means to be able to video the event or to use your camera to make a movie of it. She says, “The weather forecaster says that their radar has detected a big cyclone forming over this area.” A “weather forecaster” (forecaster) is a person who tries to predict what the weather will be in the future, which is always a very difficult thing to do.

“Radar” (radar) is a technology that allows a machine to detect the speed of things that cannot be seen by your eyes or that cannot easily be observed or noticed. In an airport, they use radar to keep track of all of the airplanes that are flying in out of the airport to make sure that they don’t hit each other. Radar can also be used to see where the clouds are and where it is raining. The weather forecaster uses radar to try to figure out what the weather will be in the near future.

In the dialogue, Shana says the weather forecaster’s radar “has detected a big cyclone.” “To detect” (detect) means to see, notice, or observe something that would not otherwise be seen. The radar has detected – or noticed or seen or indicated on its screen – “a big cyclone” (cyclone). A “cyclone”is a kind of storm that has winds that go around in a circle. Usually we use this word “cyclone” to refer to a “tropical storm” – a storm that is coming off from the ocean onto the land.

When cyclone refers to a tropical storm, it’s usually called a “hurricane” if it is in the Atlantic Ocean and a “typhoon”(typhoon) if it is in the Western Pacific or Indian Oceans. Aecio says, “Let me get this straight, you’re hoping for a big storm?” The expression “to get something straight” (straight) means to understand something completely. Usually we use this expression when someone is explaining something to you and perhaps at first you’re not really clear about what that person is saying, and so you want to repeat what the person is saying in your own words to make sure you really understand it.

It may also be used when you are so surprised by something that someone is telling you that you can’t really believe it’s true, and so you’re repeating it or you’re summarizing it so that you’re sure you understand it. In this case, Aecio is surprised that Shana actually wants there to be a big storm. That’s why he says, “Let me get this straight, you’re hoping for a big storm?” Shana says, “Yeah, I’m a storm chaser.”

Someone who “chases” (chases) someone is someone who goes after another person, who tries to catch another person. A “storm chaser” (chaser) is a person who follows storms, usually to take videos of them or photographs of the storm. There are some people who like to chase “tornadoes” (tornadoes). A “tornado” is a storm that has clouds that move quickly in a circle, in what is called a “funnel” (funnel) which is a cone-like shape. You have tornadoes over land that are usually only going to last a certain amount of time. It’s not like a cyclone. A cyclone is a larger storm that can last for days.

Shana says she’s a storm chaser. She says, “I’ve captured lots of tropical storms on film, and even a small tornado, but never a hurricane or typhoon.” Shana says that she has been able to make a video of tropical storms and even a small tornado, but never a “hurricane” (hurricane) or typhoon. Remember, a “hurricane” is a cyclone that is in the Atlantic Ocean. A “typhoon” is a cyclone in the Indian or Pacific Oceans.

In the United States, we used to give hurricanes, storms coming out of the Atlantic Ocean, names of women. But more recently, they’ve started giving men’s names to hurricanes as well because men want to be equal to women when it comes to storms, I guess. I don’t know. Typhoons are also given names, but there the system is much more complicated. It isn’t just the name of a man or woman.

Back to our story, Aecio says, “You mean you actually chase after storms?” Shana says, “Yeah, it’s fun. I hope one day to be there for a really big one and somehow get into the eye where it’s calm.” The “eye” of a cyclone is the central part of the hurricane or a typhoon where the wind is moving around you. You’re in the middle of where the wind is moving. Apparently, in the eye of a cyclone, it is “calm” (calm), meaning there aren’t any strong winds.

Aecio says, “You understand that with big storms come strong winds and floods resulting in the destruction of homes and general chaos.” Aecio is reminding Shana that these large storms cause a lot of problems. They have strong winds – that is, strong movement of air – and can also cause “floods” (floods). A “flood” is when the water in a river goes on to the surrounding land where it doesn’t normally go. This results in the “destruction (destruction) of homes.”

“Destruction” comes from the verb “to destroy” (destroy), which means to cause damage to something so that it no longer exists or it no longer has the same shape or form. If you destroy a home, you take the walls down so that the home is no longer standing. You can no longer use it. “Chaos” (chaos) refers to confusion or disorder. These storms can cause “general chaos,” meaning lots of problems in a certain area.

Shana says, “I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m just looking for a thrill.” A “thrill” (thrill) is a feeling of excitement. It’s something that is pleasurable because perhaps it’s a little dangerous and you like a little danger. A thrill can simply be, however, something that is very exciting. It doesn’t have to be dangerous. But the thrill that Shana is seeking is definitely a dangerous one, not only to her but to other people.

That’s why Aecio at the end says, “Right, just a little harmless fun!” Something that is “harmless” (harmless) is something that will not cause problems, something that will not cause harm. Aecio is being sarcastic here. He’s making a joke. He’s saying that these storms cause a lot of problems and that you shouldn’t hope for a big storm because the storm could cause destruction of houses and general chaos, which would not be a good thing.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Shana: Hey, did you hear that? There’s a severe storm coming. Let’s hope for the best.

Aecio: Yeah, I hope it doesn’t leave a lot of damage. We haven’t recovered from the aftermath of the last big storm.

Shana: No, when I said I was hoping for the best, I meant I’m hoping to catch it on film. The weather forecaster says that their radar has detected a big cyclone forming over this area.

Aecio: Let me get this straight. You’re hoping for a big storm?

Shana: Yeah, I’m a storm chaser. I’ve captured lots of tropical storms on film, and even a small tornado, but never a hurricane or typhoon.

Aecio: You mean you actually chase after storms?

Shana: Yeah, it’s fun. I hope one day to be there for a really big one and somehow get into the eye where it’s calm.

Aecio: You understand that with big storms come strong winds and floods, resulting in the destruction of homes and general chaos.

Shana: I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m just looking for a thrill.

Aecio: Right, just a little harmless fun!

[end of dialogue]

We hope listening to our dialogues always gives you a thrill. If it does, you can thank our scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2016 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
severe – very strong, serious, and drastic; not minor or unimportant

* The health department has issued a severe warning against eating undercooked pork.

storm – a major weather event with strong wind and heavy rain

* If we don’t start hiking faster, we’ll get caught in the storm.

aftermath – what happens after something else; the negative consequences after a damaging or harmful event

* Scientists have made some scary predictions about the aftermath of a major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

weather forecaster – a person whose job is to anticipate and predict the weather based on information about the atmosphere

* The weather forecaster says there’s a 40% chance of snow tonight.

radar – a machine or technology that can detect the presence, location, and speed of things that cannot be seen, often used by pilots

* The radar shows an unidentified object flying toward us from the south.

to detect – to see, notice, or observe something that would not otherwise be seen

* The doctors detected the cancer early, so her chance for survival is high.

cyclone – a storm with winds that rotate quickly in a circle, usually accompanied by rain; tropical storm

* The cyclone damaged many acres of cornfields.

to get (something) straight – to understand something completely and fully, especially when one has difficulty believing what another person has said

* Let me get this straight: You used all of your savings to buy an expensive TV?

storm chaser – a person who goes toward storms and follows them to study and/or film them, especially for excitement and entertainment

* Fred is a storm chaser, so when the new reports that a storm is coming, he puts on his rain gear and heads straight toward it.

tornado – a storm with winds that rotate quickly in a circle, usually in a funnel (cone-like) shape

* If the tornado heads this way, hide in the storm shelter underneath the house.

hurricane – a tropical storm with very strong winds that form near or over the ocean

* The resort had to evacuate all of the guests because of an approaching hurricane.

typhoon – a tropical storm or cyclone that forms in the Indian or western Pacific oceans

* How often do typhoons damage property in the Philippines?

eye – the central part of a hurricane or tornado, around which winds move, and is an area of calm

* The atmospheric scientists try to send their measuring tools through the heavy winds into the eye of the storm.

calm – tranquil; with little or no wind or movement

* Don’t worry. You won’t get seasick because the ocean is really calm today.

wind – the movement of air above the ground in a particular direction and with a particular speed

* This area gets a lot of wind in March and April, which is great for flying kites.

flood – an event where the level of water in rivers and streams increases quickly, causing water to flow out of its normal areas, making water flow over large areas of land and buildings, damaging property

* The flood destroyed the first floor of their home.

destruction – actions or circumstances causing so much damage that something no longer exists or cannot be fixed; ruin

* The news report showed images of the destruction caused by the fire.

chaos – extreme disorder and confusion; a complete lack of order

* The house was in chaos after the wild college party.

thrill – excitement; an adrenaline rush; pleasurable and positive feelings resulting from an extreme situation

* Hank gets a thrill out of climbing rock walls.

Comprehension Questions
1. What is a storm chaser?
a) A machine that measures and records information about storms
b) A person who follows storms, taking pictures of them
c) A person who has survived a particularly dangerous storm

2. Which of these would not be found near the ocean?
a) A tornado
b) A hurricane
c) A typhoon

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
1 - b

2 - a

Culture Note
SKYWARN

Almost 290,000 “volunteers” (people who work without receiving payment) serve as severe storm “spotters” (someone who sees something that is difficult to see). They provide reports of what they see to the “National Weather Service,” which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The program, called SKYWARN, began in the 1970s.

The volunteers must complete a free, two-hour “training” (education) that “covers” (studies particular topics) storm “formation” (creation), storm “structure” (the arrangement of parts, including shape and size), “features” (characteristics) of severe weather, how to report storm information, and basic safety information. Anyone can be a volunteer, but many of the volunteers are “first responders” (firefighters, police officers, and others who respond to emergencies), people “affiliated with“ (connected to) hospitals and schools, “utility” (a company that provides electricity, gas, and/or water service) representatives, or others who are responsible for protecting members of the community.

The National Weather Service receives and “compiles” (puts together) reports from the volunteer storm spotters. Then it combines that information with “satellite data” (information received from machines that orbit (go around) the Earth) and other weather information. This allows them to make more “accurate” (precise; correct) “predictions” (statements of what will happen in the future) of storm formation, activity, and “severity” (a measure of how strong something is).

The National Weather Service refers to the SKYWARN volunteers as the nation’s “first line of defense” (primary way of taking care of people and preventing injury, death, and property damage) against severe weather, because the information they provide can be used to “warn” (tell someone that something bad is going to happen) people about severe weather earlier, which can help to save lives.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a