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Confessions of a weather freak

8 March 2012 No Comment

As I enjoy the final couple of legitimately cold days, most likely, for the St. Louis winter of 2012, I feel vast disappointment.

One of my favorite characteristics of the U.S. Midwest is truly having four seasons, with each bringing its defining traits annually in full glory. At least usually. Unfortunately, this winter has been an epic letdown for weather enthusiasts like me. I have unlimited passion for snow, bitter cold and the entire aura surrounding the season of winter.

Now that my 3-year-old daughter shares this same passion for snow, the past couple of months have really been a major buzz kill.

When people react to this like I am irrational, I explain how weather is a tremendously emotional topic for me. Romanticizing weather is certainly not a unique trait as it part of our daily fabric and routine. It is just more excessive for me.

The powerfully sensual qualities of a snow storm, thunderstorm and even just a solid, steady rain are experiences I’m constantly seeking. I watch various RADARs like a freaky hawk, and find The Weather Channel’s Extreme Weather programming to be irresistible. (It has nothing to do with Crystal Egger or Nicole Mitchell or Heather Tesch.)

This is because there are very few sounds, sights, smells and feelings on our planet that can match the intensity of nature in full chaos. If someone has never went outside right before a wind-chilled Arctic cold front hits St. Louis, enjoyed the calm before a ripping thunderstorm rolls through or observed the atmosphere changes the hour leading up to the beginning of a major snowfall … then it’s hard to grasp, I suppose.

The whistle of the winds, the awe-inspiring boom of thunder and the cosmic light display from lightning are each genuine marvels.

But it is snow that really blows my mind. Watching the skies turn gray, feeling the air cool and experiencing liquid precipitation gradually turn into glorious white particles is just awesome.

St. Louis usually gets around 20 inches of snow, but in 2011 we received 30 inches. This winter, we have had about 5.5 inches. Boo. It is our least snowy winter since 2001. Last year was our “best” winter since 1987. Basically, the weather stats say this year is like 1955 … all over again.

The spring-like winter had its advantages, as I spent many afternoons at the park with my daughter. But even that is a problem, as now there will be no “spring-fever” when it warms up for real. It will just be … more of the same, but at least with thunderstorms.

I grew up on a farm in Iowa, and perhaps this enhanced my lifelong weather obsession. There is no setting like the rural Midwest that captures these splendid climate events. Obviously, there is a dark side to the severe weather in the Midwest as tornadoes can be devastating. But this also adds to the mystique of these weather events.

The idea of going on a real storm-chasing adventure is something I cannot shake, and hope to do later in life. For now, I’ll just experience what I can in St. Louis, and hopefully the winter of 2013 will be much more memorable.

Actually, meteorologists are saying the spring of 2012 may be legendary because of the extreme warmth. Hmmm.

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