I’m convinced my wife missed her true calling. Instead of companion, mother, caregiver, healthcare professional, she should have been a meteorologist. You know, a weather person in the tradition of Willard Scott.
I’ll be in bed, reading a James Rollins thriller or watching a PBS documentary about killer asteroids, and Sandy will interrupt my concentration to tell me about the latest meteorological crisis: “Eversource says 1,200 people have lost power. It could get worse because the wind is expected to gust up to 50 miles per hour.”
“Wow.” (I don’t really mean “WOW,” but I have to say something in appreciation for this valuable update.)
“Plus, there’s a winter advisory in New Hampshire until 10 a.m. tomorrow. Torrential rain, sub-freezing temperatures and icy roads.”
“Glad I’m in Connecticut,” I mutter.
“It’s up to 1,400 without power, so don’t be so sure.”
“Is that homeowners or residences or businesses?” I ask. “What if 12 of those people live in the same house, then the outage isn’t so widespread.”
She ignores my probing questions and proceeds to tell me 200 schools have cancelled classes because of the impending snowstorm. A few minutes later, she lets me know 400 schools will be closed and there are water main breaks in Seymour, Orange and Bridgeport.
By now, my anxiety has reached a perilously dangerous level.
“This system resembles Superstorm Sandy,” she says.
I love that word “system” because it’s so professional-sounding. Only people with degrees in meteorology are licensed to use it, which means my wife has probably broken some regulation and will be fined by the National Association of Weather Forecasters or get chastised by Al Roker.
Quite honestly, the weather worries me. I’d rather argue about the Trump administration or Tonya Harding’s innocence than listen to reports about flooding and degree days. Reports of bad weather terrify me because during Superstorm Sandy, three tall oaks fell on our house and we didn’t have power for days. Over the years, we’ve had trees fall on the power line, the phone line and the deck.
“The wind chill is going down to 30 below in New Hampshire,” she informs me. (Our home there got pummeled during the last storm when two towering pines fell on the garage and tore a hole in the roof.)
“No more details,” I plead. “I don’t want to lie awake worrying about trees falling or pipes bursting.”
The threat of freezing pipes also causes sleepless nights. On one occasion, our pipes burst in 17 places, and I blamed the furnace man … until he informed me someone had turned off the heat.
I conducted an investigation and discovered my daughter and son-in-law were responsible. They thought they were switching off the basement light, but it was the furnace. It was a costly lesson, but it taught them the difference between the switch for the basement and the switch for the furnace. I think. I hope. Just in case, I put a piece of tape over the furnace switch.
Weather reports have become a family ritual. At night, Sandy lets me know what the forecast is for the next day, and that morning she’ll give me an update. As an added bonus, she’ll provide a midday rundown for the upcoming week.
I recently bought her one of those NOAA radios so she can get forecasts firsthand from the National Weather Service in addition to her iPad weather apps.
Of course, everybody wants to get into the act. Whenever a storm is coming, my neighbor sends around advisories she receives from our state senator, which probably obligates me to vote for her in the next election or at least send a political donation.
Then, I get text messages from my daughter in Southern California who offers hourly updates on approaching storms. Why would anyone on the West Coast be concerned about weather on the East Coast?
“It’s in the 70s out here,” she said last week and sent photos of my granddaughter at Disneyland. Of course, she didn’t mention the wildfires or mudslides, and she won’t be so smug if the San Andreas fault starts to rumble.
She recently sent a text that said, “You’re getting more snow and Arctic temperatures with wind gusts up to 60 mph … and 1500 people have no power.”
Did she inherit this from her mother?