Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Do You Think of the Weather?

Apparently, we here in New England have been in what’s called, meteorologically speaking, an “unsettled pattern”. Basically this means we’ve been having loads of yucky weather! Rain, snow, ice, blizzard, you name it we’ve had it since January.

Talking about the weather is a universal theme, but here in New England it seems to take on a life of its own. Whether it’s the current winter weather we have been having or a 100-degree heat wave in August there always seems to be something to talk about. When I was growing up England there were no great fluctuations in the weather. Certainly there has been more snow in England in recent years than there ever was in in the 70s and 80s. We would look forward to a couple of “roasting” days in the summer – looking back the high was probably only about 75F! There was very little snow during the winters then. A few flakes on the ground and the place ground to a halt!

Here in New England it’s a different story. During the recent blizzard of 2013, which was called Nemo (when did they start naming winter storms like they do hurricanes?), a local TV station showed a graphic listing the top 6 storms on record in the Boston area. I realized that 4 of them have happened during the 17 years we have lived here! 

In My LL Bean Boots
The way the weather was in January of ’96 when we moved to Boston, you would be surprised I didn’t high tail it out of here! The 1995/1996 winter still ranks as the snowiest winter on record in Boston with a total snowfall of 107 inches for the season! The snow was piled up so high that when it the massive mounds of snow started melting – probably in April sometime – I could see things I had never noticed before, even buildings! To deal with this new environment we realized we needed to completely re-equip ourselves. The sturdy L.L.Bean boots I bought are still going strong 17 years later! I invested in expedition-weight thermal underwear for skiing in Maine. When that artic wind blasts, you know you’re not skiing in Europe anymore!

UK Weather Map

We survived that first winter and enjoyed the lovely summer months that followed. By the end of the March 1997, we were well on the way to having survived our second winter. The weather was pleasant, the sun was out, time to sit outside, we thought. Our neighbor happened to mention that there was snow forecast. We just laughed; it was the end of March. I obviously had not discovered The Weather Channel at that point! Sure enough the April Fool’s storm of 1997 dumped more than 24 inches of snow in 24 hours (4th biggest storm on record)! No one was laughing much that day!

US Weather Map
Eventually I did discover The Weather Channel and have become somewhat of a weather junkie in the meantime. Watching a forecast for the US is fascinating – it can be 85 in California, raining in Seattle, blizzards in Colorado, tornadoes in Kansas, lake-effect snow in Upstate New York and freezing rain in New England, all in one forecast! When visiting England now, I am quite amused by the weather forecast. It usually goes something like this: It will be cool and wet in the North, warm and dry in the South. Not a lot of mention of fronts, and jet streams and weather patterns. Obviously the size of the country makes a huge difference here! Also,  the weather has changed a little in England in recent years with more snowfall than I ever saw growing up. 

But it is not just the snow that has challenged Massachusetts in recent years. In May of 2011, my daughter and I were returning from a family event in England. We landed in JFK on our flight from Manchester and were waiting for our shuttle up to Boston. At some point I became aware of the TV in the gate area screening CNN – tornado watch for Massachusetts! Pulling my trusty Weather Channel app up on my phone confirmed this information. Gulp! Not sure I wanted to be getting on a plane with my daughter with that kind of weather brewing. But we did board the smallish plane and as we taxied on the runway the pilot announced that he didn’t think we would be able to go, then changed his mind and said they had found another route. Not sure I wanted them to find another route! The shore flight from New York to Boston has never felt so long. As we landed in Boston the sky was an eerie dark, purple color, bubbling like a cauldron it seemed. Unfortunately the tornado did touch down in central Massachusetts causing widespread damage.

Back Deck January 2011
Also, in just the past year and half we have experienced hurricanes Irene and Sandy. I think the schools will have to rename snow days as weather days. It’s not just snow that keeps the kids home these days! When I was a child we never missed a single day of school for a weather-related event. In January 2011 my kids were home for 3 ½ days out of 10 due to incessant snowfall. I guess there was a unsettled pattern then too!

One thing is for sure - it is never boring!


No comments:

Post a Comment