Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hola, Hanna

I thought of my brother-in-law, Mark, this morning. Funny that we should hear from him.

We've talked from time to time about weather, and just the radical climatological difference between his home region and mine.

I won't pretend to be any sort of expert on the Hailey/Ketchum, Idaho metro area, but my limited personal and anecdotal evidence suggest it's cold as balls. Snow hanging around late into spring, that sort of thing. When we visited for Mark and Maya's wedding, the nights were winter-jacket appropriate - which was rather jarring for me, considering it was October.

That's not severe weather, of course, just a simple climatological difference. But in the Northwest and into the Mountain West, wildfires are a constant threat. That's some scary stuff; we had a small one (by Western standards) a few miles from my house during high school. It was eerie to watch; though it was no threat to people or property, there was an overwhelming sense of helplessness, knowing that you could do little to change the fire's mind if it wanted to go somewhere.

The Northwest also deals with the occasional earthquake and the rarer volcano eruption. Pretty wild. Or so it seems to someone whose feet have been firmly entrenched in the Mid-Atlantic.

But I've been able to come back with some weather events that make our fair region formidable. Some areas of the Northwest can get humid in the summertime, though there's no comparison to the oppressive levels we can deal with here. That humidity has a tendency to kick up some wicked thunderstorms; 'bad' thunderstorms have a completely different meaning there than they do here.

And there's the occasional tornado, the most frightening of our weather events. Thankfully, they're rare; we had one earlier in the year that dissipated before it reached us. Still, seeing your county fall under a tornado warning is an attention-grabber.

If that wasn't enough, sometimes we just get some freak of meteorology that happens to pound us all with snow. If you lived on the east coast in the early 90s, you probably remember the Blizzard of '93, which kicked ass in my hometown in Pennsylvania (which, understandably, was ill-suited to handle the volume of snow we received) to places further south (which, understandaly, were ill-suited to handle any significant snow). The Blizzard of '93 happened to be an especially strong Nor'easter, a phenomenon also unknown to those west of the Mississippi.

And then there are days like today. Hello, Hanna.

The west coast is unaffected by storms that have names. We'll get them once every few years, the last notable one being Isabelle, which cancelled my wife's surprise birthday party that year. We held out hope for a long time that we could give it a go, but we gave up when our area started falling under a state of emergency.

Today is pretty much a washout, as expected. NASCAR rightly called off last night's Nationwide race and tonight's Cup race, pushing both back until Sunday. While it would be a fine day to spend watching college football, the severe weather has disrupted our DirecTV signal, which remains my greatest frustration with satellite TV. Even the standard-def channels are gone, and for some reason, they seem to be hardier than the high-def channels.

So we don't quite know what we'll be doing today. Maybe there's a trip to a bar in our near future.

Just so long as we don't get patio seating...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's not that we don't get giant storms on the West Coast, it's just that we're too proud and stubborn to give them funny names! :-)

Oregon gets bashed by over 100 mile an hour winds at least every three years. Have you watched the logging show on the History Channel? They have a great episode from when the last monster storm hit Oregon. Pretty wild stuff. I think it doesn't get any coverage because so feel people live on the Oregon Coast, and rightfully so, it's a scary place!