Sunday, August 28, 2011

Danger - American Weather!

We couldn't resist the urge to talk about American weather, given what's been going on on the Eastern Seaboard:


I’m coming to the conclusion that there’s no great place to live in the USA, weather-wise at least. Think about it. We currently have Hurricane Irene lashing her way up the Eastern Seaboard and it’s not just a heavy storm. This stuff is of near - biblical proportions and there will no doubt be a lot of damage and destruction. Although this is the first hurricane to affect so much of the Atlantic coast line, it’s not unusual for the lower states (Florida and the Carolina’s) to experience hurricane weather.

As you travel into the Heartland (the middle of the country) you have frigid winters in the northern states, (where the temperatures plummet to below freezing for months and months), and sweltering heat in the southern states. Oh, and there’s Tornado Alley running vertically right through the middle and the New Madrid Seismic Zone from Illinois on down.

Out west, they’ve convinced themselves that California has the best climate but they’re all sitting on the San Andreas fault line, aren’t they? Not to mention the desserts in the southwest where many a lost soul has parched to death. If you like your ‘seasons’, San Francisco and San Diego apparently have the least variety in weather in the country. California is also prey to wildfires and mudslides, so not as attractive as one might think.

It’s quite amazing that so many people have made their homes here.


When I first moved to the UK, I had the idea that I was getting the short end of the weather stick—having fallen prey to the popular myth concerning the awfulness of British weather.  It did not take me very long to realize I had hit the climate jackpot, however.

Over the years, I have made much of the weather differences between here and home, so I won’t go into that again, instead I will simply agree with Toni that, in much of America, for much of the year, merely being outside is lethal, whereas in the UK, it generally is not.

When I visited Phoenix during July many years ago (if there was ever a city with no reason for existence, it is Phoenix; it’s in the middle of a desert, for chissake, and it was founded before they had air conditioning), I and some friends (also from New York) decided to take a walk after lunch.  Our hosts told us we could not go out without shoes as the pavement would burn our feet.  We took their advice and ended up walking from shop to shop down the street because we found we could not tolerate being without air conditioning for more than four minutes at a time, which is three minutes longer than you can tolerate being without central heating in Minnesota during January.

The idea that you can die from just being outside is a foreign concept to most of the people I know here.  In America—pick a section of that vast land, any section—and it is a common occurrence.  You generally won’t find “Being Outside” listed as the cause of death on the death certificate—that will be something more specific like, hypothermia, terminal sunburn, washed away in a flash flood, sucked up into a funnel cloud and not seen since, disappeared in a snow bank or ground opened up and swallowed him—but the common root of all these outcomes is, Being Outside.

I would not be surprised to overhear the following conversation in any Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks or Denny’s in any part the country at any given time of the year:

“What happened to Bob?”

“Oh, didn’t you hear?  He went outside!”

So, you in America, stay inside.

Especially if you live on the East Coast. 

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  1. Sending this blog post to the ridiculous parents who are allowing their children to play in the flooded streets at the moment. (New Jersey)

  2. Don't forget. Down here in Texas we're panting our way through the worst drought in over a hundred years. It's so hot the trees are courtin' the dogs and the hens are laying hard boiled eggs! I haven't voluntarily gone outside in the late afternoon in three months.

  3. Living here does make you realise how gentle the British climate is.

    What an inane comment. Sorry.

  4. "I’m coming to the conclusion that there’s no great place to live in the USA, weather-wise at least."

    Idaho. You can only be safe in Idaho. At least, that was the rationale of Bo Gritz when he set up a survivalist commune called Almost Heaven. Go to about 8 minutes in of this Louis Theroux documentary to see what I mean

  5. Okay, sure, but then you're stuck in IDAHO. Who wants to be there?

  6. My British friends and family think it's odd that I don't mind visiting England in February. February in London is like mid-April here in Boston -- you can smell spring in the air, daffodils are blooming. Here, we're lucky to see a crocus poking up through the snow in March and it's not uncommon to get major snow in April ... and to top it all off, Boston has fairly mild winters compared to other cities in the U.S. (Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, etc.)

  7. There must be somewhere with a good climate most of the time in the States, surely? What about Virginia - bit further south; what are the winters like there?
    I think I will have to cross the US off my list of possible places to emigrate to, then. Australia and NZ still top of the list. Not that I can persuade any of the rest of my family that we should go. Ho hum.

    But Britain is so DREARY. It gets better the further south and east you go, and I'm actually lucky in the midlands as there's a small area where we are that often tends to get milder weather - there's some weatherological reason for it apparently, but I've no idea what. I'm just pleased to be in it. We've had far less rain this summer than most of the rest of the country for example. But really, all those months of grey skies. I can't stay here for the rest of my life. I really can't.

  8. Virginia would be one of my choices but was right in the line of fire for Irene, and is very hot and buggy in the summer. (Not good for me.) Plus - far too many feckin' Republicans!!! I would probably be shot in the first month.

  9. Mrs Baum: I don't think British weather is dreary, just a bit samey. And, really, there is no where you can go in the US that does not have some weather-related drawback. I visited some family in Maryland in early may one year. My boys and I arrived in coats. It was 80 when we got there--and it isn't that far south of NY, in US terms. We had our get together outside. They told me it was a nice time of year because in a few weeks it would get too hot and humid and they would have to spend all their time indoors.

    Ironically, when I was getting so sick of NY winters that I seriously considered moving, the place in the US that had the best overall climate (according to the source I was using--your mileage may vary) was the Seattle area of Washington state: it had an overall mild climate with cool summers and mild winters -- much like Britain.

  10. The weather may be mild in the Pacific Northwest, but there are still the volcanoes...

  11. I thought Seattle was rainy? It is on Grey's Anatomy, anyway. (or is that Gray's?)

    Ok, Virginia's out then. I'll go to Oz. Even if I have to kill off the husband and go on my own...

    And Mike, British weather is bloody dreary! You live in the south, so it's not quite as bad there. Actually the Channel Islands might be quite nice. Today is just grey cloud AGAIN. Still, at least I don't live any further north. I really have to move though!


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