Wednesday, June 8, 2016

For Lack of a Better Topic...

...One can always talk about the weather.

Not the weather today in my current AO per se but weather in general as I have experienced it over the years. From the green hills of Vermont to the shores of Okinawa. From the rugged mountains and shores of Korea to the brooding forests of Germany. From the endless plains of North Dakota to the sultry woods of Louisiana. And just about everything in between!

Now the weather here in Little Rhody has been fine as of late. (Well, it did pour like a sumbitch Sunday afternoon but in general it's been warm and pleasant.) That photo above was taken in the early evening Tuesday. Looks like something is building to the north-northeast but it's looked like that all afternoon with naught a thunder-boomer to be heard.

Now I've experienced some righteous thunderstorms here in Little Rhody but nothing to compare with the violent thunderstorms of my youth in Vermont. Seems like those would slide on up from the Connecticut River and commence to roar and echo all over the valley where my home town lies. A lot of rain, a lot of lightning, and the resonating crack and boom of the thunder. Got your attention it did.

Nothing like the storms I saw out on the Great Plains though. Suckers would blow in out of nowhere. One moment the sky is blue and the birds are singing. Then the sky gets dark, nearly black towards the horizon. It gets quiet, real quiet. The silence is almost oppressive. Then the wind picks up and the skies open up, the deluge begins and one is quite convinced that the end of time is nigh.

When the sky turns a weird, sometimes greenish or yellowish hue, then it's time to get "concerned." (Bloody terrified really.) For somewhere out there might be one of those terrifying tornadoes. While I've never been close to one (knock on wood) I have seen that ominous swirling in the trailing wall cloud. Outside of Denver that one was, we drove on through up to Fort Collins to hear later on the news that a tornado had touched down shortly after we'd left that area. Scary.

I've also seen the funnel clouds start to dip towards the ground. Everyone I ever saw dissipated after a few, very long, seconds. Off the coast of Okinawa one day we saw seven (as I recall) funnel clouds out over the East China Sea. Water spouts in the making, again nothing came of them. Rather exciting to see when they're a long way off. Suckers will move fast though, best not to dawdle when shelter is not readily at hand.

Now I've experienced some real extremes of temperature. From the "I'm melting" heat and humidity of a Biloxi summer to the "my brain is frying" heat out on the flightline at Kadena AB on Okinawa and on to the mind numbing cold of an old timey Vermont winter.

Hottest I've ever felt was temperatures in the mid-100s as a kid in Vermont. Seems those summers back then could be sweltering. The humidity could soar (leading to those massive thunderstorms I mentioned above) until we kids would just lie out under a tree in the shade. Like a pride of lions we felt, surveying the savanna. That's how we felt at any rate. Too hot to do much else. Biloxi and Alexandria, Louisiana felt that hot at times. Probably was actually hotter, but those days as a kid seemed worse. (Maybe because no one had air conditioning in those days!)

Coldest I've ever seen (didn't feel it, I wasn't stupid enough to go out on those days) was 40-below on the thermometer in Vermont (again as a kid). Might have been colder, the mercury couldn't actually go any lower. No wind at all. Looking out over the valley the smoke from the chimneys rose straight up. Coldest I've ever felt was 20-below, that I was outside in, delivering newspapers. (Remember those? You kids might have to Google that term.)

I was convinced that I was going to drop over into a snow bank and not be found until spring. Couldn't feel my legs, I just wanted to sit for a spell and rest. Obviously I did not as I am telling this story to you today. Didn't lose any appendages but I came close to losing an earlobe once. Mom fixed me up. I don't remember how, just that it was painful and effective. After all, I still have two intact ears.

Now in Colorado, along the Front Range, I swear that every winter the temperature would go below zero and stay there for a week or two. It would always ease up eventually but for that two weeks it was miserable.

Now in Nebraska I experienced the same cold spell in the four winters I spent there. The difference there was that the wind always seemed to be blowing. Being outside was deuced uncomfortable and pretty dangerous too. I pitied the guys out on the flightline there, recalling my own (not nearly as cold) adventures in Korea back when I was a young Staff Sergeant.

I've seen typhoons and hurricanes, gale force winds tearing the tops off trees, and fierce storms at sea with the wind topping 40 knots and the seas thirty feet high. Seeing the waves breaking over the bow of the ship and feeling the stern shake when the screws came out of the water was pretty exciting. (As long as you forgot that the nearest land was a day away.) Really gave new meaning to the saying "Oh God thy sea is so great and my boat is so small." Yes it is, you had better believe it!

I find bad weather exciting, it gets the adrenaline pumping and makes you feel alive. Of course, I'll take sunny skies, warm temperatures, and a mild breeze any day of the week. But still, I'll take a spell of nasty weather from time to time.

I mean, I've gotta blog about something, right?

Green with new roses, blossoming flowers, and a riot of color all around. That's my thing right now. Open that cooler and pass me a beer would you?


Note that snow wasn't mentioned. A little bit is nice. Perhaps an inch or two Christmas morning, all melted by noon. But lots of snow? I have no love for that species of weather, that stuff has tried to kill me more than once. You can keep your blizzards thank you very much. Uh uh. No thanks...


  1. Ah, but there is the deep satisfaction of parking the Deere, knowing that thanks to you and your trusty end loader, all the driveways in the neighborhood are clear, and you can go in, and take an alligator bath. ( That is where you fill the tub so deep, that on the tip of you snout is sticking out, like an alligator ). Then sit on the couch, with a good book, under a down quilt, with a purring Norwegian Forest Cat curled up next to you, practicing his purring!

    1. Ah, the joys of Wisconsin in Spring.

      Or were you talking about winter?


    2. Mid July. It's an interesting state, meteorologically.

    3. The wife and I had been married about 3 months and we decided to visit her family for Christmas in Wisconsin. While we were discussing marriage, we'd decided to issue each other 3 "Be No's". You know. "There will be no squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube" etc. So, there we were, in Wisconsin, in Winter. I've been to Korea, I know Cold. We're driving from Madison to the Airport in Milwaukee. It's a clear day, but as we proceed down the Highway, I notice it getting foggy out the front of the car, and visibility is getting poor. As I glance at the side mirror, I'm startled to find it's clear and a million out the side. Look back in, Foggy. Heater is going full blast. Windshield wipers are going, nothing. Finally, I reach up and touch the windshield. Ice...On the inside of the car!
      I turn to my new wife and say "Honey, there will be no visiting your family from October 15th through April 15th." Been 34 years since that day. Do you know how hard it is to go through life with only 2 "Be No's" remaining?

    4. That has to be a challenge.

      (Frost on the inside of the windshield. Oh dear yes I hate that!)

    5. You learn to breathe through your nose. To keep the ice of the inside of the windshield. And to keep your lungs from shattering.

    6. And turn the defroster to windshield only. I saw -54 once, on the thermometer in front of the Adams, WI, High School. That was a crisp morning.

    7. @Shaun, yes one learns that lesson early. A scarf over the face helps too.

      In both respects.

    8. @Scott. Windshield only, Aye.

      -54? Shiver me timbers, I'd not venture outdoors in that for love OR money!

  2. I love a really good snow storm from the comfort of my home, but extreme cold or heat not so much. Heavy winds scare the crap outta me and I love the ocean, but I am a fair weather sailor for sure.

    1. I used to like the whole "watching it snow from my window, I don't have to go anywhere" thing up until a couple of years ago. We lost power for three days. That's an experience I don't ever want to repeat. I know, other folks had (and have had) it worse. But it still sucked. So I really don't care for snowstorms anymore. Not even a little.

      Heavy winds scare the crap out of me as well.

  3. "...I've gotta blog about something..."

    There is that.
    Good post.

    1. You were my inspiration...

      No, seriously. Some of your recent weather-related posts spurred me into action on the meteorological reminiscing front. (If there is such a thing. Well, I guess there is now...)

    2. I know, right?

      We can go on about it because it's so diverse and non-controversial.
      About the only extreme I haven't experienced is the extreme cold.
      I'm pretty sure it has always been in the plus column on the Fahrenheit scale.
      Even warming from the lower reaches there is painful.

  4. Your post on weather topics dredged up some memories.
    I can recall the first time I experienced the air turning green as a precursor to an approaching thunderstorm.
    I was but a wee lad of six or seven. The sudden change cleared the summer streets of kids playing . . . the air
    smelled different too.
    Heat . . . thought I knew heat. I grew up in New Jersey and suffered through many a hot and humid summer. We lived without A/C
    back in those days. Heat . . . found out about being truly hot n' sweaty in Vietnam . . . sandbag detail will teach one all about the heat
    and humidity.
    Cold . . . Passed a year living in New Hampshire back in 1980. There was a long spell of temps running at minus forty and below.
    I recall stepping out on my deck in the mornings, taking my first breath of cold air . . . and feeling my nose hairs all freeze solid.
    These temps taught me the meaning of the term "cold soak" . . . my poor ol' 1954 VW Beetle froze up for the winter. (Never had thought of oil as being a solid before.) Paid a visit to my (then) wife for the Christmas holiday. She'd remained in Berlin to fulfill her contractual
    obligations to Uncle Sam. When I arrived the temp there was plus forty-two degrees and I wondered why everybody was wearing coats.
    Of late I, too, can do without snow. Am tired of shoveling it, wary of walking in it, and sometimes would just prefer a beach and warm surf
    for a week or so.
    Thanks for the memories.

  5. You can never go wrong commenting on the weather. And as you already know
    weather on the flight line can be some of the worst whether it is severe
    heat or extreme cold.

    Weather on the great plains does tend to make life interesting. I've personally
    seen three tornado's, two from a distance and one up close and personal. About 15
    years ago during a bad spring storm, I had a friend from the sheriffs department
    call and tell us to take cover because we had a tornado headed straight at us
    and it was only 4 miles away. With no cellar or basement to take shelter in,
    Kendy and Matt hunkered down Kendy's walk in closet while I (typical redneck
    that I am) stood at our back door and watched, during the flashes of lightning,
    the tornado approach our house. About a quarter mile from the house the tornado
    suddenly changed direction and headed due east and passed us by.

    I'll be happy if I never see another one!!

    1. Odd that. In Nebraska there were no cellars in base housing, no doubt makes 'em cheaper to build. There were more than a couple of times all five of us squeezed into the downstairs storage space next to the interior bathroom and under the stairs.

      My neighbor and I did the redneck thing one time, standing in the garage of our mutual duplex at Omaha, sipping beer and watching a funnel cloud about a mile away.

      Beer was finished and inside we went. Funnel cloud did dissipate while we were watching but the sounds of our wives telling us to get inside did the trick!

    2. Funny how wives are. I carried bruises on my arm after the tornado passed
      from a very irate missus because I didn't hunker down with her and Matt
      in her closet!! Maybe I get it from my step dad. We had a cellar when I was
      a kid and I can remember many times when Mom would rush us don in the cellar
      but Dad would just sit in his chair in the living room. He always told my
      Mom "I ain't crawling into some hole in the ground. If it's my time to go
      then I'll shake hands with Jesus a little sooner than I planned!"

    3. I think that spirit lives in most men. I used the word "men" intentionally and not the word "male." Not all human males are men. If'n you catch my meaning.


  6. Hate heat and humidity. Winter cold? I can always put on more clothing. The coldest I can remember was January 1964, North Atlantic on the troopship General Maurice Rose. Other than meals we stood on the decks sunup to sundown except when the decks were underwater. Cold weather gear is unit issue. None when you are in-transit. Fatigues and a field jacket (without liner). One last thing. The nine day trip took fourteen days.

    1. The North Atlantic in winter, why yes, I'd call that COLD. Yes, I would.

  7. We get quite a few tornadoes up here above five grand. The thinner atmosphere makes it easier for them to form, but also keeps them in the f-0 range. I remember the '75 Omaha tornado. That was the real deal.

    1. Tornadoes scare me. Almost as much as sharks.


  8. Back in 2008, we had a millennial storm, 12", in less than an hour. The whole world turned a strange green just before it started. It was really creepy.

    1. 12" of snow or rain?

      That much snow in an hour would be apocalyptic, that much rain in the same period and I'd be looking for a guy with an ark.

      That greenish sky always freaks me out.

  9. 12" of rain. Lake Delton, WI, is a man made lake, where I work, the 12' rain overwhelmed the berm, and Lake Delton drained into the Wisconsin river.

  10. Back in 1994, it rained and rained, and rained. The Wisconsin State Journal did ask Peterson Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay for a quote on one.

    1. Damn.

      I was in Germany in '94 so I didn't hear about that, but damn, that's a boat-load of rain. (Pun intended.)


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