A friend of mine from New Jersey recently remarked on Facebook that the conditions that brought Atlanta to a standstill last week people in New Jersey call "Thursday." My response was that people in Texas referred to "Superstorm Sandy" as an afternoon thunderstorm.
That's the thing about weather. If you live in a part of the world where it is cold a lot, you get used to it. You know how to prepare yourself and you understand the hazards of being out in it. Same thing goes for life along the Gulf Coast and hurricanes. We've been through many tropical storms. We know the warnings. We know what constitutes a need to evacuate and when to hunker down.
So, yes, when southern cities like Atlanta found themselves trapped in a city covered in a mere two inches of snow and a thin sheet of ice, they freaked out. So did Houston, but we just stayed home instead. In the case of Sandy, you'll forgive us if your Category 1 hurricane caused us to wonder why you needed 24/7 coverage for weeks when Hurricane Ike, a storm that literally wiped out an entire community, was largely ignored. Maybe it's because we're used to it...and not the center of the media universe.
Thing is, there are plenty of things in nature neither of us can handle. You brag about your thickened blood from years of chilly winters and we act Jim Cantore-tough in the face of sheeting rain, but there are natural phenomena and weather events neither of us want any part of.
Folks in the north -- northeast in particular -- and those of us in the south can agree on one thing: we aren't California, thank God. There are plenty of times when we both envy the beautiful weather in So Cal, but we find it all a bit soft. They don't have to withstand our blistering summers or your frigid winters. They just roll along in shoes with no socks year round like they own the universe. Then again, neither of us have to deal the actual ground moving underneath our feet. I can pretend I would be fine during an earthquake, but then I'd be lying. If my best defense against dying is to stand in a doorway, I'm pretty sure I'm going to die. Pass.
Most places in the U.S. have had brushes with twisters. They are scary because of their unpredictability and raw power. But, nothing compares with what they face in Tornado Alley. Tornados there can grow to massive sizes and wipe out entire towns. For most people in these areas, their only means of protection is an underground bunker if they have one. Those who don't huddle in their bathrooms covered in mattresses. This sounds more like a horror film than protection from the weather. My best advice: abandon Oklahoma immediately. Continual Sub-Zero Temperatures
It's been really cold this year across much of the United States. Even for those who enjoy the cold weather, this must be wearing on them. But, imagine living in parts of Siberia where the temperature stays below zero from October to April and they get lows near -100 degrees. I didn't even know humans could exist in that. We play pranks of throwing boiling water in the air to see it turn to snow when it is really cold, but these people live that experience every day. They probably see videos of us doing that on the Internet and laugh at our foolishness...while they drown their sorrows in vodka. You think you're tough in your Uggs and trench coats. Try living a real winter one year and get back to me.
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We've faced big storms along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. From Andrew to Katrina and hundreds of others not nearly as devastating, we like to believe we weathered the storms. But, none of us has ever felt the power of a large typhoon. Fueled by the warm waters of the Pacific -- if the Pacific were a hot tub cranked to the max, the Atlantic by comparison would be a lukewarm bath -- typhoons can spend days growing in strength before unleashing winds that would make a major Atlantic hurricane look like gentle Spring shower. And when you live on an island in the path of one of these bad boys, you have nowhere to go. Terrifying.
Seriously, does anyone anywhere have daredevil affinity for lava that would melt down an entire car in a matter of seconds? There are tornado chasers and weather men who will stand in the heart of a hurricane, but nobody wants to go near a mountain belching fire. That's not even counting the pyroclastic cloud that sweeps in on surrounding communities wiping out buildings like a nuclear bomb went off or. If you survive that, there's the ash that chokes out the sun and makes it impossible to breathe and the magma that mows down anything in its path with nothing to stop it except Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche and the Pacific Ocean. We all say we can handle Mother Nature, but, when the Yellowstone Super Volcano (eep!) finally goes, let's hope it's in 1000 years when we've all been wiped out by a killer virus or sentient robots.