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Let's go ahead and panic

Fear is contagious. Fear can be the physical kind. Fear can be of the kind that causes financial panics in securities and commodities markets. Fear can even sweep a bourse floor and stop dealers from making deals that five minutes before would have been no-brainers.

My office saw a demonstration of the physical kind yesterday. The fun and games began when the National Weather Service announced that conditions were right for the formation of severe weather.

That kind of announcement is unusual. I thought it was silly. Imagine that. Late spring in Wisconsin, a front is going through and I need the National Weather Service to tell me severe weather is possible? Right.

Some public events were canceled in surrounding communities.

That set off the chattering in the morning. By afternoon, co-workers were on their cell phones. They were checking their Internet. The front was in Eau Claire in the western part of Wisconsin. It was supposed to reach us by 3 p.m.

The front reached Marshfield. There was water in the streets. Ooh, water in the streets of a Wisconsin city in a rainstorm. Must be global warming.

People were deciding to go home early to ride out the storm there. The building started emptying.

At 3 p.m. no storm. I went out for my usual walk and the sun was shining. There were dark clouds to the west, but no biggie. It’s June in Wisconsin. When I came in I commented about the sunshine.

Never mind, the storm would reach us by 4 p.m. It didn’t.

By this point most everyone in my area had left. I was working on a World Coin News feature about coin collecting in Vietnam.

A person came around to check who was still in the building around 4:30. I certainly was. There were others. I walked toward photo scanning and found someone doing – guess what – talking on a cell phone.

Still no storm. About 10 minutes after 5 p.m. I finished up Vietnam and decided to go home. Guess what? Sunshine.

I went home. I rented a movie on the way across town at the Depot Street Station. If it is going to rain, I’ll watch a movie, I thought.

You know what? It didn’t rain in Iola at all. There was softball-size hail in Wisconsin Rapids 41 miles west, southwest of us. It was pea size in Stevens Point, 22 miles west. Some power lines were down. We lost the usual barn further north, though it was a pole building rather than the familiar red wooden structure. All in all, it was a typical late spring weather pattern.

How much work was lost in this state yesterday I don’t imagine we will ever know.