Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Imagining the Weather

I've just come back from my morning walk. I drove Joel to school with the cello, and paced around Princes Park at top speed for half an hour. There's light rain coming down, and I was wearing jeans, t-shirt and long sleeve fleecy. But today is a day of total fire ban, and for the first time last night, with millions of others, I received a text message from the Victorian Police warning of severe winds and fire danger. The radio is full of emergency warnings, but the burden of many of them is that we must stay alert, despite the rain. Forecast top for Melbourne is only 31, but the fire index — that measures temperature, humidity, wind, drought conditions, etc. — is rated over 200 in some parts of the state. The index is designed to range from 1 - 100; and it was well over 300 on February 7. The real danger is the cool change that's going to come through this afternoon, with the possibility of lightning strikes.

It's almost impossible to imagine today as a day of hot wind and fire. Let's hope I'm right.

Meanwhile, The Age website has an article about snowstorms in New England, Washington, New York and Philadelphia. I will have to think very seriously about the coat question before I leave for that last-named place on Sunday week. I do have a couple of coats, but they are all too short, too light, or not waterproof enough for snow. I bought a beautiful green tapestry-style coat in St Louis with fake-fur collar and padded lining, the November we were there, and the locals laughed pleasantly at my sense that I was set up for winter. And by mid-December, when we left, I could see what they meant. I guess I should wait till I'm there to buy something appropriate.

It's very difficult, despite the best evidence of a range of media, to imagine yourself experiencing alternative weathers. I went to New York in July a few years ago, leaving a cold Melbourne winter, and loaded up with coats and jackets I never took out of my suitcase once. Of course this would not be a problem in England: I had to buy a leather jacket there last July.

But what is it about the weather, that even with the help of the fanciest websites and predictions, you really only believe it when you see it with your own eyes, feel it on your own skin?

Update: Oh. I see. Here comes the wind.


Evening update
: Winds are still high; and it's still warm. There's so much wind the firefighters in the four major fires still burning have had to be pulled out; and there are trees and powerlines down all over. Apparently there's rain in the south-east, but nothing here yet. We've just been sitting over a glass of wine and some home-made bakewell tart (thanks, Kt!), and I realised there's a thin film of dust or grit on the table. We went outside to say goodbye and the sky is that yellow grey that presages a storm, but the wind is still hot and northerly. I heard someone on the radio on the edge of an area that was burnt out a few weeks ago: she said all there was around the house was ash; and the wind was just lifting it up and blowing it everywhere, so she had lost count of the number of times she had wiped the kitchen bench; and could not get the taste of ash out of her mouth.

9 comments:

LanglandinSydney said...

If history is something to go by it'll be balmy Sunday week in Philly --early March there's ALWAYS a last big snowstorm. Then spring. Of course that was before global warming existed, so maybe things have changed!!

Hey Stephanie I'm keeping a blog for my Hons Langland course, really links and stuff like that, but still, it's on blogspot and everything. http://langlandinsydney.blogspot.com
This is Lawrence by the way in case you were confused!!

Stephanie Trigg said...

Well, that's encouraging, about the weather, I mean. Balmy is good!

Hey, and neat blog...

Pavlov's Cat said...

I was up very late last night listening to the wind rise in the trees in the back yard (now very big) and crossing my fingers and holding my breath for Victoria. We've had some quite heavy showers here in Adelaide this morning so I hope they are on their way to you.

Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

Pack nothing but light gear for your DC visit. The snow will be gone within a week and it is already almost spring. By the time you visit, it should be in the 70s and beautiful.

Stephanie Trigg said...

PC, the trees have started coming down in the suburbs, now. I'm seriously wondering about my prospective bike ride to play tennis, right in the middle of the anticipated wind change.

Jeffrey, sounds good: just hope you don't have to make too many sacrifices to the weather gods to make good on that promise.

genevieve said...

Stephanie, I'm glad to hear someone else has fine grit on their table! thought it was just me.

It can't be good for those poor survivors' airways going back to the 'fire-affected areas' in weather like this. Too much, too soon.
Hope those trees behave themselves for you :-)

Stephanie Trigg said...

Yeah, I reckon it'd be so stressful to be constantly packing up and moving out, then moving back in. No trees down round here, but bits and pieces of the eucalyptus citriodora all over the garden. Nothing to complain about, really.

Elsewhere007 said...

'I had to buy a leather jacket there...' Sounds terrible!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I can never remember what various temperatures feel like when I'm not experiencing them. That is, I know what clothing I need for 20 degrees F & lower, or for 85 degrees F & higher; but if I'm feeling one of those as I'm packing, I'm not sure about 50 or 75 F---"mild" means different things depending on sun, wind, humidity, & whether I'm coming from colder or warmer.