Temperatures in Houston dipped into the twenties Monday night but climbed into the fifties yesterday. I am not gloating; I’m saying winters here are mild. Yes, we get the occasional hard freeze, but it’s short-lived. January gives us no cause for complaint.
Last week, the local temperature hit an almost sultry 55 when my brother-in-law texted me to say a major snowstorm was headed for his house in New Jersey. Major snowstorm? It wasn’t on my radar.
I turned on The Weather Channel, surprised to find it had interrupted regular programming for breaking news about Winter Storm Hercules. Uh-oh. A named storm? That’s never good. Sure enough, there was Jim Cantone, struggling to stay upright as winds buffeted Boston.
Before I went to bed, I pulled an extra blanket from the linen closet. I live 1,800 miles from Boston in an area blessed with balmy winters, yet my reptile brain had caught a glimpse of bundled-up Jim Cantone and demanded an extra blankie.
Then the polar vortex roared. Folks in Minneapolis-St. Paul endured 62 hours of below-zero temperatures. Chicagoans braved temps in the double digits below zero. I empathized and tossed on an extra sweater before dashing outside to pick up the morning paper. But wait! The weather I dashed into represents spring to Minnesotans. They wouldn’t have put on one sweater, never mind two.
Am I suggestible? Maybe, but a lot of people in south Texas watched coverage of the bitter cold and headed for the grocery store to stock up on non-perishables, bottled water, and batteries. What? That was just me?
Television and Internet give those of us in the far South an inkling of the trouble arctic chills cause, and those of you in the North know summer heat in Texas wilts more than crops. I want to be connected. Yes, I may scoff at some pre-storm coverage as hype, but it’s hard to argue with a camera that pans a snow-blanketed city street or the aftermath of a tornado.
Nothing froze at my house this week, but that doesn't stop me from anticipating the forecasted Big Thaw. Hang in there, Minneapolis!
Tell me I’m not alone. After you see footage of fires several states away, are you tempted to wet down your house’s roof? Do reports of hurricane force winds prompt you secure lawn furniture although you live hundreds of miles from the sea? Did you pull a puffy jacket from storage even though your local temps rarely drop below forty?