On being a weather geek


I was not made for the tropics, that’s for sure. And right now Portland feels like it’s in the tropics. There is one thing that has always made the few hot days we have in Portland each year tolerable: the fact that it cools off at night, so you get a bit of a recharge before facing the next sunup.  But this time we are seeing new record high lows…in other words, we can’t count on the cooling off at night part so much anymore.  So there is a cumulative effect we aren’t accustomed to.

And I remember from my climatology and biogeography studies that summer minimums are really critical in understanding the big ecological picture.  So we should really be paying attention to this, people.

My husband would tell you I am a serious weather geek, and it’s true.  I find myself biting my tongue so I don’t force explanations of weather phenomena on co-workers, friends, family members, complete strangers and so forth because, frankly, they just don’t care to understand every last detail like I do.  In my college teaching days, I doubt I found a single day more rewarding than when I got to explain to students exactly why it rains so much here. (Hint it involves orographic accentuation and adiabatic cooling, but I digress.)  I so totally LOVED seeing enlightenment arrive in the eyes of my students when they really got it.  And I just knew that in their excitement they would go out and spread the word far and wide. Kind of like having disciples, I guess.

I don’t get to do that much anymore.  And I miss it.  Fortunately, my husband is very patient with me, has learned to keep his counsel when the weather reports come on so I don’t miss a lick, and pretends to enjoy my weather geekiness. 

I also totally heart looking for and understanding microclimates around the Portland area – trust me, the range is ginormous, which is one reason it’s such an interesting place! For example, please guess what the range in annual rainfall is within Portland city limits… hint, it’s in double digits.

I like to examine and analyze weather and climate on a more global scale as well.  It’s such an amazing interconnected machine and I love to watch it work! If there is a weather crisis or weirdness underway anywhere in the world, please do not expect me to talk about anything else. And please wait for a commercial on the weather channel before making any kind of sound.

So what do I think about global warming?  I think we should be very worried. VERY VERY worried. About a lot more than rising sea levels.  Global warming makes being a weather geek a pretty scary thing to be.  Keep your eye on those summer minimums, I say.


3 responses

  1. Weather geeks rock. While I’m not one myself, I’ve worked with them…specifically, the folks at NOA…I had access to their photography, and wow. Just wow. I love data, so combine data + photography and I was in hog heaven.

    On another note, the changes in global warming are shifting what we can grow in our gardens. There are things in Portland gardens you couldn’t grow 50 years ago. I’m wondering how this will change pests and pest controls.

    I’ll stop rambling now. Go weather geeks!

  2. Yes, you are so right! I’m gonna have to rename the zonal denial section of my yard, cuz the zones are shifting… and I think we’ve only seen the beginning!

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