Friday, August 22, 2008

An exercise in preparedness? Or an unhealthy obsession?

I’m being told increasingly often these days that I’m far too obsessed with the weather.

In my defense, I do have reason to be a little obsessive in the middle of hurricane season, in a city below sea level. In some ways I think I’m still suffering from a Katrina-induced paranoia. But my habits and obsession aren’t new…they’re simply a great deal more pronounced than they used to be.

I’ve always had a fascination with severe weather. I don’t often understand much of the mechanics behind it, as I barely passed my science classes in high school and college, but still it fascinates me. I used to sit for hours watching marathons on the Discovery Channel about tornadoes ripping up the Midwest, typhoons flooding helpless coastal towns, mudslides bringing homes careening down the side of a mountain, and, of course, the hurricanes.

At the time, my fascination was just about limited to this never-ending parade of TV documentaries. When the movie Twister came out, I watched it over and over again, not because it was a good movie, but because I wanted to be out chasing twisters too.

Years ago, my friends Jen, Irene, Jim, and I went driving around in the middle of some severe weather in our hometown of Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania. We were forced to turn back because of falling trees, but the adventure was exhilarating. Two days later our area got hit with an F4 tornado with a base a half-mile wide. It was devastating for the area . . . and fascinating.

Now, this “hobby” of mine includes about 15 weather Web sites bookmarked on my computer, weather forums, books about Katrina, and my constant companion at home, the Weather Channel.

I spend every day lurking on the Gulf Coast Weather Forums. With Topical Storm Fay poised to re-enter the Gulf of Mexico now and head west, I can scarcely stay away for longer than three minutes at a stretch. This is like crack to me. I’m a complete addict . . . from June 1 until November 30.

In fact, I just took a break from typing this to go check on Fay’s progress. I can’t help myself.

With new invests (94L and 95L) skulking about in the Atlantic, I expect my behavior will change little for at least the next few weeks. I’ll be exhausted but unable to pull myself away from the computer, watching the models and my clock and realizing that eventually I’ll have to sleep. Eventually, I’ll have to get some work done too. It’s a shame that this whole “working for a living” concept is getting in the way of my weather watching.

There are worse things to obsess over, and there are even worse things that I obsess over, but generally not all day, every day, for six months.

So is this healthy? Is it preparedness or paranoia? Fascination or fear? Intense interest or cause for an intervention? Am I going crazy?

I don't know. I'm not even sure that I care. But I don't have time now to consider an answer to that. I need to go check the weather.

1 comment:

hoodawg said...

I have to admit, I tend to go weather-crazy when tornadoes and hurricanes are near. I check the websites compulsively, and I'll just stare at idiotic weathermen point at and describe exactly what I can see for my own eyes on their weather map. Weird habit, I agree, but as odd habits go, it's somewhat useful. I did know to go get in the closet with Bailey when the tornadoes were attacking Atlanta!