Radar love: keeping an eye on the sky

I’ve got a thing and it’s called radar love.

Like any true Maritimer, I have an insatiable love of weather, whether it’s predicting it or talking about it.  Weather is fascinating.  And in Nova Scotia, we get such a medley of conditions because of our ever-changing seasons.  As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.  It’ll change.

A true Nova Scotian funnel cloud from 2008. They may be half-mythical, but upon occasion, you might see Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt chasing one.

While I swear by the weatherstick that’s on my porch, I put most of my faith in Environment Canada.

For one, I have to obsessively check the long range forecast even though it’s only reliable about two days in advance.

My favourite toy?  The radar imagery, which hones in on Nova Scotia, showing in precise detail when precipitation is going to hit the area.  Even better, it shows how extreme the weather may be.  Will be it be sprinkles or hail?  Flurries or two days’ off work?

As someone who has commuted upwards of two hours a day (well, more in the winter) I trust the radar to let me know when and where I’ll hit nasty blizzard conditions.  Sometimes it even allows me to drive safely in advance of any White Juans.

In summer, it’s great for two reasons.  One, you can make executive clothesline decisions based on how the precipitation is moving.  And two, if there’s to be any heavy winds and thunderstorms, you can guesstimate their severity.  The radar lights up like a Christmas tree when there’s lots of thundercells roving across the Maritimes.  Red equals evil, warning me in advance of whether or not I should go outside under our pine trees, hold up a golf club, or hang tight to the washline while standing in a puddle of water.

Though I used to be terrified of thunderstorms, which sound like giants bowling in the sky, and the snapping flashes of lightning which sears your nighttime eyes, I find it all a little thrilling now as an adult.

However, I could not be persuaded to move to a place like Tornado Alley.  Nor would I want to build on Mudslide Lane.  I’m afraid watching The Wizard of Oz did not romanticize tornadoes for me any more than Swiss Family Robinson endeared me to hurricanes.  Well, maybe a little.

No matter how advanced humans become in terms of manipulating technology to achieve their ends, weather will likely remain the one thing humans cannot control.  Indirectly, humans affect the weather, if Al Gore’s predictions that the Gulf Stream will stop and leave us to wearing mittens and toques year-round, prove true.  But humans are ultimately subservient to weather and its whims.

That’s why having a reliable weather forecast is so important.  If I can’t control the weather, then at least I can know when to wear my rubber boots.

We've got a thing that's called radar love
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