Monday, November 06, 2006

Winter North Atlantic

My brother sent me some photos of his backyard near Quebec City. The wet snow hangs heavy on the clothesline and flower branches. I just returned from the Caribbean, where the temperatures were in the high 80’s and low 90’s with occasional rain and/or downpours. Our parish has a priest in residence for two years who lives in the mountains of Peru and wonders about the afternoon thunderstorms we had during the summer; something new to him, as are our Gulf and East Coast hurricanes. He’s also never lived through a tornado.

Each area has its own typical weather. When I lived on the coast, we never thought twice about hurricanes and, in fact, my brother and I went through the eye of one on an unprotected beach. During the time I lived in the Midwest, we could almost feel a tornado hours ahead of its coming. In thunderstorm areas, you just know when you will get one, especially in Texas where the lightning is worse than anywhere. In other parts of the world, it’s monsoons, cyclones, blinding downpours and anything else Mother Nature thinks up.

I don’t think my friend has seen fog. We used to have it back at the beach – what my father, the fisherman, called "shutdown fog," when nobody went anywhere unless you had radar. Other areas have it, too, but we seemed to have it more often and small craft would get very lost in it because they never carried a compass.

Oceans, too, have their own weather. The Roaring Forties, at 40 degrees south latitude, has almost no land mass to stop the ocean’s worldwide flow. "Winter North Atlantic" is perhaps the worst and freighters must be loaded lighter here than anywhere else.


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