Aaron R. Davis
This morning, I went out for breakfast with my wife. It’s one of our favorite things to do, when we can afford it. We hop over to this great local diner and I have some combination of bacon, eggs and toast.
The air was nice and warm. It was cloudy, and it was a little foggy, but it wasn’t chilly in the least. The 47 degree warmth had managed to dry up all of the ice and sleet left by last night’s freezing rain/thunderstorm, and it was a lovely early spring day. On January 28.
Is anyone else weirded out by the weather the last few years?
Just a few days ago the temperature was in the single digits, with our farm county getting down to double digit below zero temps late at night. Now it’s suddenly 47 degrees. It was supposed to be a “wintry mix” last night. What we got instead was freezing rain and fricking thunder. Tonight it’s just going to rain and thunder shower, and we’re supposed to be on the lookout for tornadoes. In January! There have been tornadoes around the entire country. Then, later this week, it’s going to be down to single digit temperatures again before it warms up enough for a big snowstorm.
What the eff is going on here? I mean, I know we have that joke about how in Illinois you can experience all four seasons in a day, but this is much less exaggerated.
And let me tell those of you who don’t know, hearing thunder in January is just disconcerting. It is never not disconcerting. It’s just not natural. It’s not right. It goes right to that lizard portion of the brain that wants to panic because something is just … off. I don’t remember hearing the term “thundersnow” until a few years ago. And it was only a year or two before that that I ever actually heard thunder during a snowstorm.
I was talking to a friend of mine last night. She lives in the UK. They’ve been experiencing an unusual amount of snow the last week, and I told her we were preparing for thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes. She asked if that was unusual for this time of year. “I feel like it would have been unusual five years ago,” I answered. “But today it just seems like the way things are now.”
And you know what? It totally is. This is just the way things are now.
Now, I don’t want to go off on a politicized discussion about global climate change, because my column isn’t the one thing that’s going to tip that contentious debate in one direction or another. And, also, I don’t want to have a debate on whether this climate change is manmade or part of a planetary climate cycle, because I honestly don’t feel smart enough to have that debate. But I do think it’s past time to keep pretending that things aren’t happening with our weather — and have been happening for a long time — that just aren’t what we’re used to anymore.
This is the way things are now.
Thundersnow. Tornadoes in January. Hurricane Katrina. Superstorm Sandy. It’s time to stop pretending that these things are flukes and start preparing ourselves. I … don’t know what to do about it, thought reinforced levies across America would be nice, especially since we just found out, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers, that thousands of them are in disrepair. It would be nice not to lose landmarks like the Atlantic City Boardwalk and, say, the entire city of New Orleans again. I mean, you want to create jobs, there’s your first public works program right there. Let’s start reinforcing, repairing and making things more resistant to this insane super weather we’re apparently just going to get from now on. I’m just saying; people need jobs, and safety preparedness needs work. Again, not trying to be political here, but wouldn’t it be great if it was harder to get killed by the weather?
And I’m not advocating sticking your head in the sand and trying to figure this thing out, either. I mean, it would be nice to know if there were things that we’re doing that are exacerbating the problems we’re having from shifts in the climate so that we could, say, stop doing those things. But I also think it’s time to accept that this is where we are now and just start dealing with it instead of acting like it’s okay to put all of that off until the next time it’s too late to do something about superstorms, hurricanes and blizzards. Even if it’s just putting up more levies and fixing the ones we have and making some new innovative shelter designs … and maybe not putting nuclear power plants in places particularly vulnerable to oceanic consequences of cataclysmic weather, say … at least we can feel like we’re almost sort of a little prepared to deal with where we are now instead of warning about a future we’re already in.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.