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The weather blows, and we’re done with it

Casting blame where blame is due: on forecaster-enablers

Don't let the fleeting
Don't let the fleeting (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Ron Judd Executive Editor

To: Randy Small, Cliff Mass, all other Weather People

From: Local Crank

Re: Weather/climate, WTH?

Dudes:

What is wrong with you? 

Before this rant begins, rest assured that, as someone who sits in the same newsroom containing at least one person with formal training in climatology (not to mention any names, such as “Ralph”) yours truly is fully aware that weather and climate are two separate subjects.

However, given that they merge, in this case, into a single gushing river of shockingly cold, angry sky effluent running down the center of my back basically every day, I don’t care. 

It’s got to stop. It won’t stop. So I’m meeting downpour with outburst.

TL;DR version: This weather blows. 

Longer incantation follows. Pull up a chair, and some bourbon. 

Look: Like any other tree fungus, I am a child of the rainforest. A Washington state lifer. Someone who has now spent six decades on this corner of the planet not only abiding the damp dankness of our little world but celebrating it

I laugh at the rain, or at least used to.

One day many years ago, working as the outdoor writer at a lesser publication in Seattle, I famously addressed the subject with cut-to-the-chase frankness for folks out spending $1,400 on full-body rain armor:

“You can only get so wet,” I think I wrote. “It usually won’t kill you.” My point: When you’re out and about, trekking up the Humptulips or warding off Canadians to park at Trader Joe’s, just get wet, enjoy it, and be well-equipped to get dry once you’re done exerting.

I was a lot younger then. And, I like to think, even more stupid (open to question; please do not poll CDN staff).

As a more-seasoned adult, I think I can safely say that, yes, I have changed. But so have conditions. And for that, lacking any alternative, I henceforth hold anyone associated with the weather conspiracy in any way absolutely, 100% responsible. 

(Clears throat.) No, this is not rational. So what’s your point?

Breaking point: Coming out of a local caffeine dispensary Tuesday morning, April 18, a deluge of monsoon rain — of truly Central American jungle proportions — dumped down upon me, turning my flimsily packaged egg bites into soggy yolk blobs and blowing the hood of my rain parka clean off my head. I seriously was scanning left and right for pit vipers.

So yeah: It’s wetter than normal, longer into “springtime,” statistics be damned.

Also colder. In recent months, I’ve been attempting to educate a transplanted native Kansan who spent many formative years in California, the Golden Parachute State. Even the moderating factor of the more recent years being spent in the Bay Area, which invented fog, left her woefully unprepared for our spitfire climate. 

Like many hapless newcomers, she had to adjust to local realities: Namely that regardless of the fact that, for 11 months a year, the daytime temps only vary between about 41 and 47 degrees, you’re eventually going to need somewhere between 41 and 47 separate garments for the purpose of effective “layering.” 

“You need a base layer, a warm middle layer and an outer shell layer,” was the way it began. Then the parade of recent “spring” conditions commenced.

Asphalt-heavy, wet snow one day: full layers. Bright sunshine and bracing wind the next: full layers, plus hat, vest and windproof gloves. Followed by a warm Saturday afternoon with the sort of teasing sunlight that makes you forget all of it for at least a half hour: no layers at all!

The very next day: sideways graupel. And snow levels down to 12 feet. You get the picture. You’ve lived it, combatted it, got the REI dividend.

“Well, sometimes you need a Layer 3.45,” I said, imparting the well-known local fact that middle layers are literally cut from drastically different cloths and fills, ranging from shredded dryer lint to Primaloft to the down of grain-fed geese.  

At some point a few weeks ago — this may have been after a particular frigid “April” day when I advised her with a straight face to add a 12th middle layer consisting of the sewn-together pelts of several dozen endangered Arctic weasel-fox marmots — said newcomer disappeared into a massive, double-sleeping-bag-sized Canada Goose Extreme Ice Station Zebra Parka, a sort of sleeping bag with arms, which she zipped it up to a level above the top of her head, entering some kind of fugue state from which she has yet to emerge.

She’s hanging over there from the ceiling right now. Keep your voices down.

My point: This is what you weather people have done: cocooned the woman.

We’re not trying to cast aspersions here, nor chunks of asphalt, mainly because sufficient quantities of neither are within easy reach. But please take this as a heartfelt suggestion from a frostbitten public:

It’s OK to predict bad weather, talk about bad weather, point out bad weather, even track its course for purposes of people getting the hell out of its way. You can even feel free to point out the fleeting upsides — those lovely rainbows we’ve seen arching over us of late. A 12-second Woo Hoo!

But for the love of the gods, you have to stop acting like you enjoy it. 

Just look at yourselves: watching the latest atmospheric river approaching on radar and tweet-gushing, “HOLY FREAKING APOCALYPSE, LOOK AT THE SIZE AND SCOPE OF THIS DEATH-SPIRAL MEGA-WALL HEADED RIGHT AT US!! UNPRECEDENTED!!” (Note though that even local weather guru Mr. Small started asking about spring online as of yesterday.)

We get it; weather is your thing. It can be exciting. Except it’s almost May and we’re done with it. 

Please make it stop. Or cancel my account(s).

Best,

Ron

Ron Judd’s column appears on Wednesdays; ronjudd@cascadiadaily.com; @roncjudd.

This column was updated at 12:45 p.m. on April 19 to correct a misspelling of Randy Small’s name.

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