In the spring of 1995, my family moved into a new house in what was then the westernmost part of Sioux Falls, S.D. My dad — a homebuilder — included an elevated back porch that faced the northwest horizon. From there, we had a perfect view of the summer storms that would bubble up and slowly rumble in to wreak havoc on the city.
It was on that back porch I would obsess over severe weather, giddily awaiting the next hail storm, flash flood or tornado. I would run in and out of the house during severe weather warnings — inside to check the latest Doppler radar image and outside to spot tornadic activity on my own. Twister came out in 1996 and I fantasized being among that bunch of wily storm chasers, zigzagging across Tornado Alley, partly for science but mostly to win Helen Hunt’s affection. Unfortunately, my math and science skills lagged, so I never really stood a chance at being a meteorologist.
My parents still live in the same house, but the view has since been blocked by residential development. Still, the weather geek in me lives on. I think it’s a Midwestern thing. How many arbitrary conversations do we have on a day to day basis regarding, of all things, the weather?
To be fair, we endure some brutal weather in the Upper Midwest. This isn’t news to any of you reading this within the region, but try living in the mundane, entirely redundant Pacific Northwest climate you’ll yearn for days like today.
What’s going on today? Oh, you haven’t heard? Check weather.com:
Unimpressed? Check out this headline from Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas:
That’s right, weather nerds — this is a storm worth talking about. Douglas writes:
Computer models are predicting today’s storm undergoing “bombo-genesis” near Duluth today, with a central pressure as low as 28.3″ by evening. If the computers verify we may very well set a record for Minnesota’s strongest storm (measured via barometric pressure) on record. According to Jesse Ferrell’s blog at Accu-Weather.com Minnesota’s deepest storm on record was 28.47″ near Rochester.
I doubt I’ll be the only one hitting refresh on weather.com later today to watch the barometric pressure drop. (Geek cred!)
It doesn’t take a sociologist to determine why we’re so adamant about idle weather banter. Weather is one of the few things that links strangers living in a common area. In fact, locally, I suspect it’s a point of pride. Sure, we grimace when the high is (-6) degrees, but it’s one of the first things we’ll brag about when anyone asks what Midwestern winters are like.
The forecast for Minneapolis today calls for a high 55 degrees with sustained winds of 35 miles per hour, gusting to 60 miles per hour. An inch of rain is likely. Also likely: I’ll talk to a total stranger about the weather at some point today. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, either.
That’s part of being a Minnesotan.
(Note: If you snap any cool weather-related photos today, send them my way so I can post them here. E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org! Include a description if possible.)