Is it just me, but it seems lately that the weather is, for lack of a better word, drunk. Drunk, as in violent and random. One day it’s sunny and 60 the next day it’s snowy and 2. And there are things happening that nobody can (or will) explain. The tsunami comes immediately to mind. But the four major hurricanes to hit Florida this season also deserve honorable mention. Or how ‘bout the snow in Hawaii? Or how that 4.6-mile Antarctic iceberg that recently decided to go for a swim?
Even usually tepid states have seen their share of violent weather. When I was growing up (in the not-so-distant past), if you wanted to see a tornado, your best bet was Oklahoma’s Tornado Alley. Failing that, try anywhere in the Midwest from Texas to Minnesota. And failing both those, try renting The Wizard of Oz. But now you need go no further west than Nashville to see a twister. And you might even see a few in Pennsylvania, like the one that blew over the Kinzua Bridge.
And why must every weather system be accompanied by a death toll? I asked this via e-mail to my local weather guru—a man in whom I have little faith, despite all the technological flibbety-jibbety at his disposal. His answer was not what I expected. What I had anticipated was a lot of jargon about vectors and climatic wave patterns and the jet stream. But what I got was more a combination of…"Tornadoes, what tornadoes?" and "The country is more crowded and developed now, so it just seems like the weather is worse because more folks get in its way." I felt like he’d just said, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, I am the Great and Powerful Oz." And this was before the tsunami and the wandering iceberg.
So naturally, I’m formulating a conspiracy theory, and here it is: over-development, clear-cutting of forests, and our continual excretion of industrial toxins, hairspray, and car farts have set in motion a series of events as you might have seen in the film, The Day After Tomorrow. Or worse, widely scattered clouds of frogs and locusts with the occasional river of blood. And the weather people know it, but they don’t want to incite a panic. After all, what would we do anyway? Build an ark? To Mars?
I’m neither an environmentalist nor a believer in divine retribution, so I hope I’m wrong, and that it’s just an error in my perception or our news media’s thirst for sensationalism. After all, the Galveston Flood and the San Francisco Earthquake occurred in 1900 and 1906, respectively. And no giant stone fist descended from the sky.
One closing thought… Why is it that the worse the weather is, the happier the meteorologists seem to be about it? I mean, they’re always smiling. Do they have money riding? When something bad is about to happen, I’d rather they say something like, "Be careful driving today, and check on your neighbors. We’ve got a bad wave of frogs and locusts headed our way."
I might not feel like they cared, but I’d at least feel like they weren’t betting against me.
Slang of the day: to dance on air: to die by hanging (1934).