Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obsessed with weather










I'm obsessed with weather. I don't begin the day without at least one weather report, and sometimes several. If it is predicted to be an active weather day, I spend time watching the weather channel.

"You are the only people I know that watch the weather channel like it is a real show," said my daughter-in-law, about my son and me.

If there is any hint of rain, I use the remote, of which I'm always in control much to my husband's chagrin, to quickly reconnect with weather channel. I'm always searching for the weather on the 8's. My biggest pet peeve is turning to the weather channel during a commercial only to find a commercial there as well. I remember when the weather channel didn't have commercials. Those were good times.

Several times during the day I gaze at my computer to check out the local radar screen, promptly displayed on the top of my iGoogle start page. I use intellicast.com because:

- 1) It is the least intrusive to the workings of Sybil. I named my computer Sybil after the movie where Sally Field possessed multiple personalities. It seemed to fit.

- 2) Intellicast provides an instant look at current, local radar. Just one click provides a looped view, showing the path of a potential storm.

- 3) Intellicast shows various other maps, such as moisture, weather watches, storm tracking, global weather, and even the latest influenza report.

- I love Intellicast's pan and zoom feature. It lets you zero in on your own rooftop, so you can watch a storm relative to where you live.

- 4) With the kind of weather we have had of late, it is nice to know those bow echoes aren't aiming at us.

Thanks to the meteorologists on the weather channel, weather watching has become much more sophisticated. As a local reporter in Illinois I covered a story where members of the fire department took a weather spotters class. That means I got to take it too. It was fascinating and I highly recommend it.

I really love weather. Last year, we received 13 inches of rain. It was awesome. Because we live on a hill in the forest, the water just runs downhill toward a wet weather creek in the backyard. The sounds of the water rushing, the site of our yard transformed into a tropical rain forest, and the smell of the woods combine into a sensory delight. I love rainy days.

I think part of my interest in weather came from my grandfather. In fact, as I've gotten older, I think I've become him.

He lived in Michigan; we lived in Chicago. His visits were always a happy time, at least until 10 p.m. That was when he would put his finger to his lips and say, "Shhh, the news is on." He then devoted all his concentration to Fahey Flynn and P.J. Hoff, Chicago's local news and weather guys back in the 1950's. That was back when news and weather combined was only 15 minutes in duration. Sports scores were a mere mention back then.

When he and my grandmother moved away, I used to write him. His letters always began with a weather report. I noticed recently, that when talking to friends, I do it too.

That was so long ago. But as the times have changed, the tradition has not, at least in our household. I find myself shhh-ing just as Grandpa did whenever the news and weather is on. I always strain to hear the latest, amid all the noises that accompany a household with six cats, a dog, and a husband, telephones, and other distractions. The older I get, the more of a challenge it is to hear different noises at the same time. But then, I did live in too close proximity to airplanes and trains for an entire lifetime.

I wonder what Gramps would think of today's news and weather coverage around the clock and in so many varied ways. I bet he would be amazed. So the cycle continues.

Gramps died more than 25 years ago. I miss him. If he was here, he wouldn't have to shhhhh me.