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Weather Almanac for April 1998
TO BE A STORMWATCHER
By Karen (Parker) Skowron
April showers bring May flowers, the old folk wisdom says. It also brings storms and some interesting weather to watch. This installment of the Weather Almanac, "To Be A Stormwatcher," was written by a good friend of mine Karen Skowron. I hope you like it as much as I do. Keith C. Heidorn, PhD
Somewhere they're looking for a storm watcher. It sounds like a fascinating job. I realize as well as anyone the incredible number of variations of storms.
There's the one that is flung over the horizon and is in your midst before you know it. One moment the day is calm and ordinary. The next you are in the midst of Nature at its most savage. Such a storm is very humbling.
Then there's the storm that sneaks up on you from stage left, offers an instant of agitation of leaves and hair, tosses out a splash or two of water like some novice altar boy -- then is gone. "Was that rain?" someone thinks to inquire but the question is gone before there is an answer.
Most storms give fair warning of their approach. "Looks like a bad one," the experienced will say, nodding sagely and solemnly at a darkening sky. The air changes. Becomes still. The trees seem to tense their leaves as if digging in their roots. Then a pouring of wind. Then a pouring of rain. "Told you it was coming," the forecasters comment from the safety of their verandas.
Storms that occur by the sea seem to have a hard time giving up their companionship with the water. They scoot into shore, cause a bit of commotion, rush back out for reuniting with the sea. A storm watcher would have to count the times of advance and retreat.
If you have lived through a monsoon, you are aware of sheet storms. The rain drops in sheets. The world becomes one magnificent clothesline. A storm watcher might well have to assess the number of sheets hanging upon it.
My favourite area for storms is southern Ontario. (They say we like best that on which we first look, and I suppose, all things being equal and consistent, there were many summer storms on Lake Erie forty years ago.)
As children we learned early that if the sky came anywhere near to the colour of the flesh of an overripe plum -- we did not delay -- we ran home. And there was then a good chance we would be spending an hour or two in the basement. We may not have had a recreation room but we had a storm room, comfortably outfitted with chairs and books.
Storms often enough became hurricanes. Hazel was the biggest. It killed a friend of mine. I have never since managed to be blasé about a green sky.
Yes, somewhere I hear they are looking for a storm watcher. I sure would like the job.
Reprinted with permission from: Adventures of A Homebody by Karen Parker, ©1988, Hill Cottage Industries, Toronto, ISBN 0-9693203-1-3.
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