Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Weather, Weather Everywhere

We - almost all of us - have become weather junkies. With the assistance of the 24/7 weather channel, 24/7 news networks constantly looking for the next big story, or at least story fillers, and newspapers seeking attention-grabbing local headline news, we cannot escape weather hype.

There is nothing new about weather. One of the worst, if not the worst, weather event of all times occurred in the Bible when the world flooded and it rained for forty days and nights.

And I am sure there is nothing new about discussing the weather, forecasting the weather, tracking the weather, telling stories about the weather, and planning around the weather.

Yet I doubt there has ever been another culture as obsessed with the weather as ours. At the hint of snow everyone immediately jumps in their cars and heads for the nearest supermarket or convenience store on a bread and milk run.

We hear about possible hurricanes when they are still mini-storms somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. We discuss storm names, giving approval or disapproval as if they were the newest addition to our family.

News crews endanger themselves and their equipment reporting in the midst of weather rages, hoping to out-story other reporters.

I never remember one or two hour delays when I was a kid. School was either open or closed, and rarely closed due to inclement weather. Nowadays schools close or announce delays as soon as weather forecasters predict the possibility of snow.

I spoke to my aunt in Florida this morning. She told me, "It is cold for Florida. I have lived down here for 16 years and it has never been this cold." At 93 years old, I think it more likely she does not remember previous cold spells.

My three year old granddaughter was very confused. She and her family moved from Colorado to Florida this past summer. Everyone told her it is hot in Florida. She refused to wear socks or long pants or put on a jacket because, "It never gets cold in Florida." That is what she was told and she totally believes it!

Records may be broken and once-in-a-century occurrences occur more frequently, but we now hear about the possibility of extreme weather sometimes days, even weeks before they happen. We hear that this year will be a bad hurricane season and wait anxiously throughout the season for the coming deluge.

News people must think we want to know as much as possible abut the weather, the weatherman or woman providing a voluminous amount of numbers and terminology. But after listening I am still not sure if it will be sunny or if it will rain. That is all I want to know. Do I need a raincoat or sweater or boots today?

Barometric pressure...dewpoint...downburst...inversion...vorticity...vertical visibility...nautical mile...I have an idea what a mile is, and a vague idea of what a nautical mile is, but do not ask me to define the term. Or take my kayak out and measure one. And what does that have to do with whether or not it will rain on my barbecue this weekend?

Some terms become part of our vocabulary. I had never heard until recently El Derecho and El NiƱo and Chinook. On the other hand I think most of us can figure out pretty quickly that an Arctic air mass has something to do with cold temperatures. Then there are monsoons, typhoons, Nor'easters and most recently an Arctic polar vortex.

And do not get me started on daylight, or the lack of day light...

Or the seasons. Or the fact that winter in the North is summer in the South - south of the equator...

I think it is time to move beyond our - and specifically my - obsession with the weather. The problem is I will not be able to watch the weather channel, or log onto weather.com, or listen to the weather report on the local or national news, or carry on a conversation with anybody about the weather.

Which brings up another important topic. If I cannot talk to people I barely know about the weather, what other non-controversial topic can I discuss?

I might have to stick with the weather.

"Nice day today. Hear about the latest weather record broken in our area?"...

3 comments:

  1. I am also a weather junkie. I get up in the morning, turn on the TV and watch the local weather, then turn to the Weather Channel to see what's happening across the rest of the country. I've already seen the Weather Underground website, so I guess you could say we are in the same boat. The Weather boat. :-)

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  2. Yeah, weather is safe, stay away from politics and religion!! Perhaps the price of gas, or groceries may be a safe topic!!!

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  3. Yes the weather is a hot topic. Derracho here last year and folks are still cleaning up the debris.
    As for Florida, my friend who is 68 and lived there all her life says this cold did not damage the orange crop she thinks. Yes it gets cold in Florida, but summers are hot-hot-hot. I lived there 3 years (in Tampa) and went through one summer pregnant with no air conditioning… Dianne

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