Rescuers today search for survivors and bodies after Tuesday’s massive landslide in Rangamati district, Bangladesh. (The Associated Press)
It’s hot outside this week.
That’s been the lead story (or close to it) on the six o’clock news every day. Glad they told me it’s hot. Wouldn’t have figured it out otherwise.
I did learn something, though. We’ve had an official “heat wave,” which is three consecutive days of 90-degree temperatures. We tied a daily record here in the Cleveland area twice this week, with 93 on both Sunday and Tuesday.
We’ve long had a fascination with weather in this country. TV stations hire as many meteorologists as they do news reporters. (That’s an exaggeration, but probably not a big one.) The news radio station I listen to in the morning gives a weather update every 10 minutes (because listeners tune in and out quickly, and the station wants to ensure everyone hears a weather report).
Does weather change our plans often?
The people I work with like spending time outside, but when it rains, we don’t do that. When the sun shines, we use sun block – lots of it. When it’s humid, we limit our time outside to short stretches. In the winter we don’t sit outside because it’s too cold. We enjoy indoor activities.
So yes, weather does affect our plans.
Personally? Not so much.
I like being outside in all types of weather. I walk or jog year-round. In winter I wear layers of clothing. I don’t don a scarf because I like the fresh air on my face. There have been days I’ve chickened out because I didn’t want to deal with the cold, mostly because of my fingers – the first part of me to get cold, even with two pairs of gloves on.
In the summer, I like being outside when it rains. On a hot humid day, especially, rain feels good.
I’ve been out a few times when it’s rained so hard my shorts and T-shirt get as drenched as they do in the washing machine.
When a thunderstorm passes by, I’ll sit on the front porch and watch it. Lightning and storm clouds are cool (as long as nothing gets hit and catches fire).
We are blessed in the Upper Midwest that we rarely get severe storms. The occasional tornado or damaging thunderstorm is about it.
In the extreme
Extreme weather makes the national news frequently. Severe tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, the occasional rock slide or mudslide affect various parts of our country and world.
Wildfires are another story. Some occur naturally; some are the work of humans, either intentionally or not. They can and do cause severe damage. I can’t imagine being in the path of an out-of-control wildfire.
Fire is wonderful when it’s confined to the barbecue grill or backyard pit. It’s essential to operate a stove, furnace and your car. We need to treat those flames and sparks carefully, as we all know.
Weather makes the news internationally, too. Just now on https://weather.com/ I see a story about a Bangladesh mudslide that has killed at least 140 people and caused massive destruction. Wow.
Bangladesh, east of India, is a densely-populated country of 161 million people. Poverty is deep and widespread. Formerly East Pakistan, Bangladesh came into being in 1971, when the two parts of Pakistan split after a bitter war.
Because of its poverty and population density, weather events frequently have extreme consequences there. This is yet another reason that those of us who live in the United States can be grateful.
While weather dominates the local news this week, we can give thanks that it’s not nearly as severe as Bangladesh is enduring right now – or, perhaps, other parts of the U.S. We do need to take precautions, though, as the newscasters repeatedly tell us: Stay hydrated (water is best), don’t overdo the sun (skin cancer and sunburn are real) and watch out for bikers and pedestrians on the road.
‘Real’ life, ‘real’ power
Why talk about the weather when there’s “real” news to talk about, such as ongoing – and new – intrigue in Washington, D.C.? Because not everything in life demands controversy. Not everything is a life-and-death matter. (Although the weather can involve deadly situations.)
Politics is a game that some people play well, and most people play poorly. Depends who you ask who plays politics well or not.
Weather, on the other hand, is what it is. Weather is real life. Today, it’s hot. Tomorrow, we might get thunderstorms. Sunday, it’s supposed to cool off. (We’ll see if that weather front actually reaches us on Sunday.) We plan accordingly, and adjust as needed. We compromise. We make it work.
We enjoy the weather, we avoid it or perhaps we endure it, if we work outside and it’s uncomfortably hot, for example. We delay children’s ball games when lightning strikes nearby, because we fear the worst.
We spend too much of our lives that way. We fear the worst, so that’s how we live. We expect bad things to happen. Even regarding weather.
I’ll stay on my porch when thunder and lightning dominate the sky. Storms reveal nature’s power, and our helplessness, in a way. There are forces out there bigger than us. Much bigger.
We respect them. Because we have to.
Because with weather, we deal with life as it really is.