Wild Weather and Other News

We interrupt this (ir)regularly scheduled blog for an emergency weather rant.

A lot of people have noticed something this summer. The United States—in fact much of the world—is having some really crazy weather. For us here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s been going on for over a year and a half, beginning in January of 2010. I won’t give you the rundown of every detail, but suffice it to say that in the past nineteen months, the only time we’ve had our normal weather patterns was during this past November, December, and January. Since mid-February, we’ve been locked into a pattern of below-average temperatures, and with the exception of last month, above average rainfall. Of course the whole world is connected, and there’s a finite amount of moisture on the planet, so if you add rain to one area, you have to take it away from somewhere else. Likewise with high and low pressure systems, jet streams, etc. I’m mildly weather-geeky, but no expert, however, I can tell you that the incredible heat and severe storms in other parts of the US are directly connected to our cool (and I don’t mean that in the “awesome” sense) weather here.

For those of you in other parts of the country, this probably looks normal, but it’s extremely strange for the Pacific Northwest in July, and the Portland area has seen it three days out of the past week.

When will it end? Who knows. Personally, I’m afraid it won’t. After almost two years of this, I believe we’re experiencing a shift in the patterns. Our Mediterranean summers are a thing of the past, and now the mild, cloudy weather of British Columbia is our new norm. I have absolutely no scientific evidence to back this up. It’s just a gut feeling. Of course “normal” is a bit of an arbitrary word when it comes to weather. We have to realize that, here in the Northwest, “history” consists of about a hundred years of data. And that’s not long enough to get an accurate sampling. It’s like watching the weather out your window for five minutes and thinking it’s a good example of what it’s going to do over the course of ten years.

One thing about climate patterns is that they make up part of the fabric of our reality. We get locked into them and come to expect them. We rely on them to ground us when everything else is up in the air. No matter how bad things get in other areas of my life, I’ve always been able to comfort myself with the knowledge that there are certain patterns I can count on. That every year the daffodils will bloom in spring, the sunny blue-and-gold days of summer will return, the leaves will blaze with stunning colors in the fall, and the rains will be back each winter to shelter me in that comforting bubble of gloom that makes it so easy to write. Every year when a season comes, the experience strikes me with a childlike burst of surprise and delight, and I feel blessed and comforted. I can count on these things, no matter what sort of flux the rest of my life—in fact the rest of the world—may be in. So when these patterns are altered, like they were particularly last fall and this summer—it shakes my faith in reality. It makes me feel like nothing is sacred. It’s a little like walking outside to discover that the grass has suddenly turned blue, and the sky green. Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker, always used to ask why you’d let a rainy day bring you down, but I don’t think it’s as simple as making a choice to be happy. If it were, why would there be a whole science based on things like how colors affect mood? If painting the walls of an office red can cause a raised level of aggression in a workplace, why shouldn’t waking up to the 212th consecutive day of gray skies make me feel gloomy?

I know other people have it worse. At least we didn’t have three weeks of 100° days. At least tornados haven’t ripped apart our city. That’s a given and also beside the point. People in the areas experiencing those extremes are also struggling with the shift in the basic pattern of their climate. The question is, if this is affecting us on an emotional level (not to mention a physical level for some) how do we deal with it? What if it isn’t a quirk that will go away next year?

I don’t really have an answer for that. Somehow, I’ve made my peace with it, at least temporarily. When I came home last Wednesday to see the long-range forecast (which was supposed to be returning to a more normal pattern) completely reversed, it drove home the fact that this isn’t going to change. We’re not going to get a summer this year. It hit me so hard, so brutally, that it took my mood from elation (I just got my shipment of books!) to despair (I’ll never again get to sit barefoot on my deck, staring up at a perfectly blue sky, and letting my bones soak up the 90 degree warmth of a good Oregon summer day). But, strangely, once I accepted that that was the reality, that there wasn’t a two-month stretch of good weather at the other end of the 7-day forecast, I quickly zipped through that whole grief process thing, hitting on anger, denial, and finally acceptance. By the middle part of the next day, I was okay with it. Not happy, but okay. Maybe that’s the best any of us can hope for.

So what about the rest of the country? The places where this new weather is a threat to life and limb? I can’t say. At least here I don’t have to worry about a cloudy 69° day ripping my house out from under me. I guess people in those areas will learn to adapt, too. Grow accustom to the severe storms and heat, the way Californians have grown accustom to the threat of earthquakes. Or else maybe move. Eventually these new patterns will become their own sort of norm, and they won’t feel strange anymore. We won’t feel ripped off, or threatened.

And then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is just an odd little quirk, like the summer of ’54, and Mother Nature will shake it out of her system in the next couple of weeks.

In other news:

Running Wide Open is now available in paperback at Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon.com.

On August 1st I will be participating in a YA Scavenger Hunt coordinated by Oregon indie-turned-traditional phenom Colleen Houck. A fine cast of YA authors will be providing bonus material from their current books or upcoming releases, but you won’t find it on their personal blogs, you’ll have to hop from one to another until you get to the stuff you’re looking for. If you want to see some deleted scenes from Running Wide Open, be sure to tune in on August 1st. You’ll have a unique opportunity to be introduced to some awesome new YA authors. The hunt only lasts one day, then the post will be deleted, so be sure not to miss it.

I’d also like to invite you to subscribe to my newsletter so you can get email updates about my publishing news. I don’t intend to spam you—heck, I can hardly manage to blog on weekly basis. Where would I find the time? But it will mean you’ll get news sent to you personally once a month or less, so you won’t have to worry about missing any important announcements. You can follow this link to subscribe now, or the one in the left sidebar at any time in the future. I’m putting together the first issue to send out this week, so don’t miss out! 🙂

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23 Responses to Wild Weather and Other News

  1. If this becomes the normal weather pattern for Oregon I’m afraid I’m going to have to move.

    The scavanger hunt sounds great. There should be more of that kind of thing going on.


  2. Beth says:

    Not sure if I already subscribed. I think I did.

    The weather is making me a little crazy. Not so much the wet and gray, but the cold. I don’t do cold well. My fingers turn blue and painful, and my outlook gloomy when I’m cold.

    Rooting for Mother Nature to forget the quirks and shape up to a “normal” summer.


  3. Roxie says:

    Love your weather-geekness!

    The only constant is change. And I rather enjoy these quiet grey days, but then, I don’t have an outdoor job like you do. Hope things dry up for you soon.


  4. Angela says:

    Well, even if I don’t like the rain, I can’t take the heat.(That’s why I stay out of the kitchen) I wish the sun would show up a little more, but I don’t think it will hurt me to much to have to learn to live with it, like it is. I hated it last year, but this year it is better and next year I pray not to even notice. I take enough vitamin D, not to have any side effects from lack of sun. 🙂


  5. Alice Lynn says:

    You always seem to hit the nail on the head, Lisa. You cover it all; emotional changes that are engendered by climate changes. Like Beth, I’m rooting for this to be a mere blip in Mother’s Nature pattern. Maybe the climate is reflecting the state of the world and our economy. Rain and fire storms. Still, I’ll try to stay optimistic. If you can accept the weirdness, I can but try.


    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Alice, it’s that emotional gloom that I can’t seem to get past. It’s not killing me, but I notice how my mood really soars when the sun comes out and we get that perfectly blue sky.


  6. I am with you on the crazy weather stuff. I am in Minnesota and we had the LONGEST winter ever this year.

    It was so long that I promised myself I wouldn’t complain about the heat at all this summer.

    Now the heat index is at 115.

    LOVE IT! 😉

    Crazy weather.


    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Liz, you’re the first person I’ve seen who’s actually embracing the Midwest heat rather than complaining about it. And around here I have to put up with everyone saying, “Well, at least it’s not 100°.” I don’t want three solid weeks of that sort of heat, but I’d gladly swap you guys one week of it for a week of our cool, gloomy weather.


  7. Katy says:

    Yesterday was overcast and 72. I’m so glad it was! Had to be outside at that festival all day. But yeah, rainy days in late July is lame. But everything is growing like a *jungle* around my house. It’s wet and warm like a jungle. I think that’s why those Yacolt parrots like it here.


  8. Mary Jean says:

    So that’s why all the leaves are giant size this year! They are accommodating already to less sun and more rain.
    I will keep my motorhome in shape to run to Arizona to see the sun this coming winter.
    You nailed it with people wanting something predictable (like weather). I too think we are in for a major shift.


  9. Summer is my chance to soak up the heat that will have to last all winter long. But this year…oh, I’m not looking forward to the fall. To add insult to injury, the few gorgeous days we’ve had have almost all fallen on work days. Considering I only work 2 days a week, I’m really starting to take it personally.


    • Lisa Nowak says:

      That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Chris. When I was studying mechanical engineering I decided to go to school summer term so I could get through the program more quickly. Four terms in a row weren’t a problem, but what I neglected to take into account was that by not taking a break, I’d set myself up for seven terms in a row, and that about killed me. I’m afraid this summer is going to be the same way.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the nice weather they’ve predicted for Sunday will come to pass so you can get your fix this weekend. 🙂


  10. Pingback: wonderfully busy « Terri Patrick's Blog

  11. Barb says:

    I’m not an native, so I’ve always thought the weather here was full of baloney. The promise of sunshine jerked away under cloudy skies. I was here 5 years before I got a chance to wear something besides a coat on 4th of July.

    Even 20 years later…I still compare Oregon’s usual weather as wrapping up in a wwet blanket and climbing into a fridge (and shutting the door).

    No wonder by Dr. prescribed vitamin D.


  12. I, for one, love it!!


    • Lisa Nowak says:

      Good thing I can’t smack you from here, Mark. 🙂 I’m all for making lemonade out of lemons, but I’ve got to say, you gloom lovers get your type of weather nine months out of the year. Don’t begrudge us a few hot, sunny days in July and August. We’ve earned them. 🙂


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