When I first moved to Chicago, I was too young to appreciate The First Law of Local Weather: no matter where you move, the natives have never seen this kind of weather before. Russians probably told invading Germans they never have such cold winters. I’ll bet you could go to Mars and little green creatures would assure you, “It’s a very unusual year. Normally, we have MUCH more oxygen here…” Rain amazed Californians, blizzards amazed Chicagoans, hurricanes amazed Virginians, and tornadoes amazed central ‘Tornado Alley’ Illinois.
An eight-year stint in Chicago still didn’t prepare me for real weather because winter is not scheduled in that city. Blizzards come as a complete surprise to Chicago officials every year. They would announce after the first snow of the season that municipal supplies of salt and sand were exhausted because of unusually severe weather, the like of which hadn’t been seen since the previous winter.
Although central Illinois has strict zoning restrictions prohibiting any actual scenery, it does provide quite a bit of entertainment in the form of weather. My theory is that the powerful Weather Team Forcasters (WTF) demanded at least two tornado sightings a month, with premium pay for blizzards. That first summer we were in Illinois, every time we got into the car the WTF would respond with a weather situation. As we scanned a cloudless sky, they assured us that conditions were ripe for the formation of a tornado, and pleaded with us to seek shelter. Although we couldn’t help noticing that our neighbors would be out washing their cars and grilling brats, we chalked it up to the devil-may-care attitude for which Midwesterners are famous.
Every once in a while, if the WTF got really lucky, actual weather would occur. Meteorologist: “There are big clouds forming… getting larger… pulsating… closer and… yes… we have reports of a funnel… Oooh, yes… It’s SO big, and it’s (pant, pant) getting ready to… touch down (gasp)… almost there… NOW… right now… YES!”
Afterward, the weather bureau had a cigarette and we lit more candles down in the basement.
Recently we moved to England. The natives are gobsmacked by the fact that it’s been the wettest, coldest winter on record. Since last year, at least…