What in the world is going on?

How recently Queensland suffered extensive and prolonged flooding. Now, a cyclone. No less than the cyclone of the century, bearing down on that same region of Australia. This seems unbearable.

Australian police turned people away from jammed evacuation shelters on Wednesday as a huge cyclone neared the northeast coast, leaving many to wait outside in the open, praying police will relent and squeeze them in before the storm arrives.

Cyclone Yasi is the most dangerous cyclone to come ashore in Australia in a century, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and overwhelm cyclone shelters which are already refuge to more than 10,000.

You want to cry out ‘do something!’ when you picture all these individual human beings rushing, in fear, for some sort of safety and protection, only to be turned out. But it’s for the sake of safety that they were.

At a steel barrier gate, four police guarded entry to a ramp up to a cinema complex being used as a rooftop entry point to the makeshift cyclone shelter, as grey clouds swirled and winds whistled over fences and rooftops.

“It’s making it very difficult. We’re disappointed we can’t take any more people in, but I’ve been through in there and it’s just not safe,” said acting police inspector…

Meanwhile, the US is being battered and lashed again by a vicious winter storm that defies the usual parameters. For weeks, freak storms have hit the northeast back-to-back. This ‘monster storm’ covers about one-third of the country, this time ’round.

In the Midwest and Great Plains, residents are bracing for today’s weather conditions, the second system to pass through the region since Sunday.

The first system slammed into the Midwest Sunday night, dropping a foot of snow in Minnesota by Monday.

Forecasters predict up to an inch of ice, along with 3 to 4 inches of sleet and possibly more snow.

In St. Louis, forecasters expected light freezing drizzle overnight with snow to blanket the central and northeastern part of the state.

In Wisconsin, extreme snow is expected with snow showers continuing into Wednesday afternoon.

But forecasters said Chicago would bear the brunt of the storm. The city could receive up to 2 feet of snow. Parts of northern Indiana could receive nearly 3 feet.

Chicago forecasters predict the storm will rank as one of the top snowstorms to hit the city.

The ice and snow exceeded whatever they braced for. In the middle of the raging blizzard, Chicago had a round of thunder and lightning, in what some Twittered as a creepy winter heartland hurricane.

Nature seems to be in revolt. It’s a humbling reminder that for all we control or try to, there are awesome forces that remind us of our limitations, and our dependency on each other.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....