I recently had a conversation about weather with a non-Kansan. His impression, I believe, was that Kansans in general (and me, in particular) have an odd obsession with constantly monitoring the weather. I don’t mean just knowing the predicted high and low temperatures, but I mean being really obsessed with it. Like having a website open with real-time Doppler radar running constantly, at least in the spring. As a Kansan, this is perfectly normal behavior, and I’m sort of amazed that other people aren’t as weather-conscious as we are.
Take today, for example. We’re in an “unsettled” period of weather right now, which all Kansans know can cause big trouble – I’m talking the death and devastation kind of trouble – so paying attention to what’s happening in the weather world is a very, very good idea. Here on the farm, we are lucky to have a vast view of west, south, and east, which is where most spring and summertime weather comes from. We have no windows on the north side of the house for a very good reason. When it’s winter, we don’t want any “weak spots” on the side where the frigid north wind could penetrate the house. Winter weather doesn’t concern me nearly as much as spring and summer weather. Sure, there’s the occasional November tornado, but they’re usually pretty rare and not usually as potent as spring and summer tornadoes. So, I spend a great deal of time checking out the sky, particularly to the south and west, on days like this. My office is in the basement, which only has an east view (it’s a walk-out basement), so about every hour most days, I come up and take a walk around. I’m on the lookout for fire more and more, it seems, because of the drought conditions. You wouldn’t believe how many fires I’ve seen this year without ever leaving my property. On days like today, I’ll be watching for wall clouds, shelf clouds, scary-looking clouds, cloud-to-ground lightning, and, of course, tornadoes. If you ever hear the weather guys talk about “rotation” in a cloud – well, it’s hard to describe, but it’s really, really important to know if that’s happening in your area. I’ve seen it here, directly overhead, several times. My husband and I have attended storm spotter classes, and we’ve chased tornadoes and caught a few. I don’t go out chasing in the daytime when I’m home alone… I just sit here and wait for the storms to come to me, which they often do.
I mentioned using the Internet to monitor the weather. We have a weather alert radio, of course, which we rely on at night to wake us up if there’s something about to happen, but in the daytime, I’d rather keep an eye on the Internet. There are many websites that I use including the NOAA (National Weather Service), which has just about everything I need, including radar, but I also use Intellicast to get the big picture, since most of our weather depends on what’s happening in Colorado and Oklahoma. The Weather Channel is probably as accurate at prediction as our local weather guys, so I go there a lot. The Storm Prediction Center is part of the NOAA website, and it’s good for planning ahead. Speaking of which, I have some plants that I am going to move, since there is a potential today for 2-inch hail. Yeah… I’d rather move the pots now than have to dodge 2-inch hail later this afternoon.