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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Weather Rant: Raving Thoughts From a Humidified Mind*

*Somerset, PA Daily American
August 28, 2010
as "Another Snowpocalypse?"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey

I really like living here in the mountains. This is something that is far easier to state in August than February. Especially last February. The truth is, even as warm and uncomfortably muggy as this summer has been, it’s still a whole lot better than other places.

A couple of weeks ago, when things were really bad around here (“bad” being a purely subjective term), I was complaining about how uncomfortable it was in the house at night. All the windows were open, fans were blowing, but it still felt like Tampa.

Now we do have window air conditioners. Three, in fact. But they’re up in the attic and to be truthful, I’ve not been uncomfortable enough to motivate me to hump them down two long flights of stairs and install them. In previous summers (or at least the six we’ve been here) there just wasn’t any need. There were maybe two or three really uncomfortable days out of the whole summer, and it just didn’t seem worth all that work.

This year, its not been two or three days, it’s been two or three months of warm, sticky weather, the kind of icky air that caused us to flee Missouri and never look back. Speaking of the Show-Me State, on that day that I was griping, the heat index in St. Louis topped 115 degrees. Compared to them, this was arctic.

I’ve heard that the steady flow of moisture into the region that gave us that very forgettable winter is still in place, which is why its been so muggy. So, we have to ask ourselves if this winter, are we in for another snowpocalypse?

Weather forecasting is better now than it’s ever been. I can watch the future cast thing on WJAC and know with a fair degree of certainty when the showers will pass through the area, important information when you commute on a vehicle with two wheels and no roof. And, all things considered, it is remarkable what meteorologists can tell us about the weather. Although with that title, you’d think they’d know more about rocks from space. I mean, who gave them that name? And what do you call the guys that do know about space rocks? “StuffFallingFromSpace-ologists? Maybe it was a domain thing, and the weather guys just claimed it first. Oh, well…

Being a fully certified Weather Nut, I’ve gotten to know some meteorologists over the years. I remember one guy telling me (after quaffing…more than one adult malt cereal beverage), “Look computers and models aside, forecasting is still a crapshoot. The atmosphere is always in motion and sometimes for reasons that still escape us, it just does…stuff.” This was one of the guys in Missouri who almost lost his job after botching a winter storm forecast that was so apocalyptic, that it ended up closing schools the night before, canceling events, and generally sewing a lot of panic. During the night, the storm unaccountably veered to the south and instead of the promised 14 inches, we got…nuttin’ honey.

The Midwest, with its battleground of colliding air masses, is a million-cubic-mile weather laboratory that can produce just about any type of weather you could want. While weather here in the Laurel Highlands can produce a lot of interesting stuff, it’s a whole lot more stable and predictable.

And I’m not complaining. Look, in my lifetime, I’ve been around and through two hurricanes, four tornadoes, three blizzards, three massive floods, several hundred earthquakes, and more severe thunderstorms than I could possibly count. About the only thing that hasn’t happened yet is to be struck by lightning and I’ve been within yards of that happening as well.

(Usually at this point, people begin to edge away from me, glancing nervously at the sky.)

But really, weather fascinates me. To watch a summer thunderstorm grow, mature, and fade away is one of the things I love to do, especially since I know, at least in a limited way, what’s happening within that storm. As far as the rest of us are concerned, even despite the floods, the winds, the snow, the hot sun, and the steamy air; even with the fundamental mystery that weather is, there’s one thing about it that humans have always enjoyed.

Even between complete strangers, it’s still the greatest opener for a conversation.
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