Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bring on the Monsoon!

It's a meteorologist's wet dream: the monsoon. The rainy season finally hit Tucson with a fury last week, and as a result, we've been cutting in to your favorite TV programming to bring you "Breaking Severe Weather Updates" and covering up the bottom quarter of your TV screen with that annoying weather crawl telling you to stay indoors. Duh. Sorry about that. The truth of the matter is that during the monsoon, we can pretty much expect that severe weather is on its way, every day. Go drive in it at your own risk.

I have to laugh at the whole thing. I grew up in the Midwest, which, when I think about it, had the most eclectic mix of weather. In the summertime, we could have a calm shower followed by a raging thunderstorm accompanied by tornadoes. I spent many summer evenings in my basement as a kid, listening to the weather radio and praying to God for the expiration of the current tornado warning. Ah, those were GOOD times. Then winter could bring a gentle snowfall, or it could blind you with near blizzard conditions, sleet, and freezing rain (which IS different than sleet). In the Midwest, you never quite knew what you were going to get when the clouds began to build, therefore making it prudent to pay attention to the various weather cut-ins and crawls displayed on the TV or broadcast on the radio.

Here in the desert Southwest, everything is extreme and my motto since taking up residence here has become "Everything can kill you". From the piercing desert sun to that spiky plant to that seemingly cute and fluffy animal, everything can rip your face right off. Wildlife and vegetation struggle to adapt in the severe desert conditions from the brutality of the desert sun to the brutality of desert storms, and I'm not talking about the liberation of Kuwait. There is no such thing as a "gentle summer rain" here in the desert. Showers are nearly always accompanied by high winds, awesome lightning displays and knee-buckling crashes of thunder. So I laugh when the meteorologists at the station get all hopped up about severe weather because weather here is ALWAYS severe. If you look up in the sky and see cloud formations heading your way, seek shelter because you're in for a storm!

And what cracks me up is that whenever it starts to rain, everyone (me included) runs to the windows or doors to watch. We're so used to sunshine that it's a novelty to see it rain. And blow. And storm. I love the monsoon. It's new, different, exciting, and a little dangerous. So please excuse all the programming interruptions. Our meteorologists are just a little excited to get to report on something different than sunshine and intense heat, and rightfully so. In another month we'll return you to your regularly scheduled programming...without interruption.

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