Weather or Not

I've been wondering just at what point it is that we, as humans, transition into amateur meteorologists. I mean, is it a gradual thing or does it hit all at once?

One day, do you check the Weather Channel, and then the next you're watching it with your morning coffee? In two months, are you collecting barometers? And then before you know it, are you installing green screens, Doppler Radar and weather pickles in your entertainment room?

Or is it an instant Coming of Age moment, where they hand you your retirement watch and ask you:

"What do you plan to do with all your free time now, Bill?"

And (if your name happens to be Bill) you say:

"Why, I think I'm going to monitor precipitation and daily highs and lows in an obsessive-compulsive manner, Chet!"

(If the guy you were talking to happens to be named Chet.)

I say all this because it seems that, within the last few years, my dad-- who is retired, lives basically in Upper Margaritaville and has nowhere specific to be at any given moment--- has developed Weather Channel Addiction.

I had suspected this was going on, as each time I speak to him in our weekly catch-up phone call, from hundreds of miles away he recounts me with what my own weather is doing. Like some meteorological Carnac the Magnificent.

But I really notice it when he comes to visit and is Weather Channel-Free for a few days. By about Day Two, his hands are shaking... The fingers on his remote control hand are breaking out in hives... He's looking at the sky, his left eye twitching...

I ignore this for a while, because I am basically Evil. So he starts making vague hints.

"Are those cumulo-nimbuses coming in there? I wonder what that means."

(Cue ominous music.)

Then half-way through a movie, he can bear it no longer.

"Can we just put on TWC for a minute? Please? Just a minute. Just a little five-day-forecast. See what's happening at your Aunt Jean's. And Key West. And Iceland. I'll turn it off after that. I promise. I don't know what it's doing in Zimbabwe."

I thought he was going to slip into a seizure when he asked if the thermometer outside the kitchen window worked and I said I didn't know, I never really looked at it.

I would say this is an isolated case, but my best friend's parents have a similar fixation.

Not only do they monitor what it's doing outside with pinpoint accuracy, but they write it down as part of some log, along with rainfall totals.

My friend has told them many times that there are whole groups of Almanac People to take care of this task-- that history isn't relying on them specifically to trot out their spiral bound notebook and let us know there was a light frost on October 29, 1984 with a low of 31 degrees. But it's made no impression.

So as I get older, I wait for the moment that I, too, transition from a gal who just wants to know if I'll need to dig my car out for the morning commute, to an unpaid weatherperson with a deep passion for the total snowfall in the Rockies... which Tropical Storm is brewing in Barbados... and how many inches of rain I can expect on Sunday, as I watch it from the house.

If I ever start a blog post telling regular readers what the weather is doing in your areas based on your IP addresses, you'll know I've succumbed.

Compulsive meteorology affects one in seven. It's up to us to resist the high pressure front of weather addiction.

Question of the day: do you have a weather bug in your family?



Da Old Man said...

OMG, yes.

My Dad became obsessed with the weather in in his later years. Particularly the 5 day forecast just in case he was thinking about going out later in the week.

Beer Drinker Rob said...

Hmmm. Well, my dad did have a rain gauge in our yard growing up, and we used to record rainfall. No we weren't farmers, so I think it has to do with the proximity to the National Weather Service just 20 miles from our house and actually on the map you've chosen.

Where I live now in S. FL, weather can = death for the 6 months of hurricane season, so it is important. I guess you could just look for the lines at the gas station or for your grocery store to look like it was bombed, but the weather channel is more handy!

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- Heh, so you had one, too, eh?

Beer Drinker- I certainly understand about hurricanes. But when you start checking what weather various family members have in their non-hurricane areas, it goes beyond self-preservation. :)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

That's my dad too. I don't think you have to worry about becoming a Weather Addict. You're a woman. It's a man thing, I've found. Just look at my brother and his freak out last week about the weather stuff. You see? It's a man thing...totally. My dad is worse when he's going to be traveling somewhere far away, or if he is already there. He'll be on the phone with me and say "I see it's snowing up where you are. Our temps are 70 down here..." (If they are in North Carolina in the winter). The other day when I went down to visit, I turned on the TV and there it was -- left on the Weather Channel.

Jenn Thorson said...

Lisa- I get the EXACT same dialog from my dad. Some of it is wanting to rub it in that he's somewhere warm and I'm not. But some of it is just pure weather love.

Jaffer said...

Question of the day: do you have a weather bug in your family?

Yes. My Late Gradma Selma

She used to say - After a drought of an extended period, the first rain drops will usually fall on a Thursday

And, The sun is usually the harshest of Fridays.

(There is a religious theme to it if you are wondering)

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- In that context, her weather interest was quite poetic. :)

Jen said...

I am the weather person in the family. Only during storms however, I haven't graduated to full blown TWC all day long...yet. We had that storm over Christmas, it never seemed to end. Prior to the storm hitting I was glued to TWC. I enjoyed them going out on a limb predicting the snowfall amounts. We were supposed to get two feet of snow at one point but only ended up with about 15 inches. Now that it's over I only check in on the 8's. I do tend to watch more in the summer time to try to predict my water and A/C usage.

Unknown said...

Jen- I think your fascination with the weather in the context, however, is sort of like rubbernecking when there's been an accident. Big snow quantities are just enticing because they're so hard to comprehend.

Thank you for sharing your addiction with us here. :)

Moooooog35 said...

I want to know when meteorology became a hotbed as a career choice for hot women.

I mean, this TOTALLY would have changed my degree choice in Advanced Fryolator Operation.

jay said...

I'm probably safe, because it's OH who is the weather junkie in this house. He is totally addicted to both weather and time (accurate to the nth millonth part of a second, thanks to the atomic clock), and has been for a while now. I bought him a weather station a while back but it started playing up (he couldn't tell exactly how many millibars of pressure we'd had at 3.30am last Wednesday week) so I bought him a new one for his birthday. He was pathetically grateful.

It's an epidemic, I tell ya.

Unknown said...

I knew I'd learn something, Jenn, popping in like I do now several times a year. Lisa may be right, women grow up being used to things they can't control (children and things) and are not fascinated by the weather. Reading all the above made me realize how many pictures I have taken of the weather from the Hovel 'studio' in the last year, but then I spend hours and hours EDITING them on Photoshop! Nature is not good enough for me, or when the weather is boring I have to help it be interesting? Whatever! I don't care, Corfu has a perfect climate, you females from cold climates think too much! No, that's all you've confused me.. My latest post is crap...leave visiting for a day or two...I'll get some CAT pictures out. HNY all.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

Before I leave a comment on this post, I need to check my Weatherbug gadget on my Windows desktop. Hmmm. It's 24 degrees F outside, and we're supposed to get a high of 42 degrees tomorrow with a low of 21 degrees. No snow in the forecast for at least seven days, though, so that's good. Ohhh, I and see Miami's going to be in the high 60s and 70s this week. Fantastic!

Anyway, I don't think people can be addicted to the weather, Jen. It's not like alcohol, or heroin. So this column just seems silly to me.

Unknown said...

Mooog- I think those women aren't really meteorologists; they're aspiring anchorwomen who happen to read the weather from the monitors. :)

Jay- "He was pathetically grateful." That cracked me up as I can see my dad getting really excited about that. In fact, I imagine he has at least one device along those lines. He also has an atomic clock and some thing that tells him the phases of the moon and where they are at any given moment. So he doesn't have to go outside and look up.

Bob- I suspect it just has to do with how much time a person has to dedicate to something they can't control. If you have a big to-do list of items you CAN control, it may seem more effective to chip away at that. Of course, if you have giant hurricanes or tsunamis barreling down on you every few days, it's probably wise to keep on top of it. :)

Mike- Take two hours of TWC and email me in the morning. You'll be feeling better soon. :) said...

My ex used to be a total weather freak, although we never had cable so he didn't know the joys of TWC. Mostly he's just freak out if there was even a hint of a storm. My attitude is, if it snows, I'll deal with it.

Berowne said...

Whatever the weather may be, when it hits my son's place in Pennsylvania I know it will hit us here in CT in a few hours.
As accurate as any TV weather broadcast.
Happy New Year!

Barry said...

Our house has a thrmometer that tracks highs and lows - etc you can tell how cold it got last night or how hot yesterday - etc.. But it isn't mine. Also there is a rain gage on the fence that I have been asked to empty when it has filled during a storm. Once again - it is not me :P

Unknown said...

CatLady- I take the same approach. Unless there's something I need to accomplish at a certain time that's weather-dependent, I don't really give it a lot of thought.

Berowne- Ah, yes-- having friends in New Jersey, I know how that works! Happy New Year to you, too!

Barry- Do I detect you are disavowing any responsibility for your meteorological devices? :) Hmmm....

angelawd said...

This post completely lost me until I went to visit my inlaws over New Years. People really do this! I'm...flabbergasted. And I don't like it.

Unknown said...

Angelawd- I have to say, that sounds like a not-so-fun way to start off the New Year. "Hey, honey, let's start 2010 off with some stormwatching!" :) While I'm glad you've gotten to witness this behavior first hand, I'm sorry it was for a holiday.