For most of my life I’ve been neither impressed or depressed by the weather. Once a season kicks in, if the temperature stays within fifteen degrees of average, I tend not to pay too much attention. But lately, I feel like I’m in the minority. I’m not talking about the frightening specter of climate change. Forty degree fluctuations in one week…the polar bear on the block of ice… certainly deserve our concern. But it’s our recent growing day to day obsession that I don’t quite understand.
The Internet has thousands of weather sites that get hundreds of thousands of hits a day. The 24-hour weather channel gets shockingly high ratings, including my husband and my best friend who sit mesmerized listening to atmospheric tumult. They are enthralled by the science, the power and the mystery behind everything from beach erosion to forensic meteorology. Masochists, they watch footage of those who survived the latest deadly storm, eyes pealed on the radar map, calculating how far the chaos is from our block.
I get that high school girls need to know the temperature cause whole outfits depend on it.
So do farmers, women who love shoes, those running a marathon and brides planning to get married outdoors.
But for the rest of us, what’s the fascination with the endless combination and repetition of a relatively few weather patterns? Unless the roads are flooded or the schools are closed or you’re planning to stand and watch the Thanksgiving Day parade, who cares?
It appears lots of us. Someone once said nine tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if the weather didn’t change once in awhile. Nothing unites an elevator quicker than a hot spell… or breaks the ice faster than an upcoming storm. Try talking to someone in Florida between October and April without mentioning the weather in New York. It can’t be done.
I watch each night but honestly don’t listen as the meteorologist on the 11:00 news points to the weather map and explains where the fronts are coming from and how the day’s history and the county’s topography will be reflected in the air temperature at 8 AM. I don’t pay much attention unless they roll up their sleeves to show how the approaching dire weather pattern is stressing them out.
I’m amazed at how often, after all those facts are processed and interpreted, after all the statistics and charts about record keeping for this date in history, after the computerized maps showing the moment the first snow flake will hit the ground…their prediction is still wrong.
I think it’s mainly Americans who are hung up on the weather. Maybe it’s because we feel entitled to dominate it, like we do everything else, and when we can’t, we panic. To me, how I feel about the weather has more to do with my mood than anything else. If I’m happy, I’m hyper aware and appreciative of a beautiful day… if I’m down, it passes unnoticed. On a stressful Monday morning, it’s hard to see the snow as an exhilarating blanket of white…or the rain as restorative and smelling of life.
It takes the songwriters and poets to get beyond the morning commute and see the fog resting on the hill, the sunshine on your shoulder, the wonderland that is winter. Under Mother Nature’s leadership, pesky, uncertain weather will out, no matter how carefully the facts are researched. The one prediction I’ll rely on is George Carlin’s… “Weather forecast for tonight – dark.”