Yesterday on the Weather Channel

Epic scope, conflict, drama, danger, survival: the Weather Channel’s got everything. The Weather Channel is an intensely American experience. It’s one that, for me, highlights the contrast between the two continents I live on. I don’t have a TV in Peru, but, even if I did, South American cable systems don’t carry the Weather Channel. It’s North American weather, of course, so why would they? It’s only when I’m in the States that I get to see the Weather Channel. Maybe I’m weird, but it’s fun to be back and watch those sophisticated, animated, meterological models eat up our continent again.

weathermapLike yesterday. Here comes an arctic front out of Canada sliding its cold colors down the corridor east of the Rockies, curving southeast into Texas. Then here comes a second front up from the Caribbean–a warm storm burgeoning northwards out of the Gulf. “Lots of moisture,” the meteorologist says, as always. And these two fronts are crashing into each other right now, as we speak. They’re colliding over east Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, blending, morphing into something bigger, something with a stronger sense of purpose, something more serious with deeper colors, turning north, gaining speed. Undulating like a snake, the black line between freezing and not advances inexorably up the map, trailing blue rain ovals to the south, pushing white snow oval north. The white ovals multiply, covering the whole northeast; white and blue ovals stack up over the midwest. Indiana shows white; Kentucky, a frozen baby blue. Now the whole country east of the Mississippi is animated, outlined, and colored in. It’s a huge storm system, but it’s always moving; the entire sky is always moving. The sky will take the whole huge thing north and east into the Atlantic tomorrow, they say. Out over the Atlantic to harass shipping there, I guess, and to keep Icelanders pinned to their version of the Weather Channel. (How do you say, “Oh, no! Not again!” in Icelandic?)

Early this morning I open the back door and peek out. Sure enough, the cold Kentucky morning is blue, not white. Rain, not snow. The Weather Channel was right.

American meteorology. Very cool.

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