Jeff Masters Weather Blog

What’s your favorite kind of weather? (We share our picks.) » Yale Climate Connections

As a Yale Climate Connections editor, I get to spend a lot of time talking, laughing, and learning about climate change with my team. More and more, I’ve been thinking about how to bring you, and the rest of our audience, into the fold with us. We’re all worried about climate change, we’re all nerds who like weather and stories, and we thought you might be, too. 

So I sat down with my colleagues, Yale Climate Connections Editor-in-Chief Sara Peach and Features Editor Pearl Marvell, for a roundtable discussion. And what better way to introduce ourselves than to talk about our favorite (and least favorite) kinds of weather?

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Sam: So I really like wind. I like when it’s sunny and it’s windy. I don’t know, I like weird sensations with sound, so wind is fun. But I also really like fog because I think it’s spooky. 

Sara: Sam, I love the “Which kind of precipitation are you” quiz that you sent out. 

Pearl: That’s funny, Sam, that you like sunny and windy. It drives me crazy. If I lived in a place that was windy all the time, I would go insane. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was from, like, growing up around boats and the noise that they would make in the wind. [Editor’s note: Pearl grew up on a sailboat in the Caribbean.] But something about it makes the hair just stand up on my neck.

Having said that, I think hurricanes are the most fascinating weather phenomenon to me. I’ve been really enjoying diving into all these different cultures that have a similar understanding of what a hurricane was and is and that it’s god-like. And I mean I’m not religious, but hurricanes almost make me so because they just seem so perfect and they’re beautiful from the outside. Obviously, what they do to places is horrific. But yeah, they are godlike or goddess-like. It could be either. Or non-binary, more likely.

Sara: We need some non-binary hurricane names.

Pearl: The god Huracán I don’t think is a male or female. By some accounts, it has one long leg with a head on top, like there’s nothing else to its body. So in and of itself, it’s kind of just this obscure being that has no sex or anything.

Sara: Um, I’m going to need you to say more about that.

Sam: Uh huh. Yes. Tell me about the one-legged Huracán god.

Pearl: They can’t say with certainty, but from Guyana all the way into Mexico, they have a god associated with hurricanes. I don’t know what else to say, it’s just like this, this one-legged thing with a head on top.

Sara: OK, so in the satellite area, we have the association of hurricanes of having one eye. Have you seen anything about where the one leg comes from?

Pearl: I’ll have to look into it a little bit more. It’s just really fascinating that this god would exist in so many different places, because hurricanes are so powerful and just change everything.

Sara: Yeah. And you’ve got no control.

Pearl: No control. Maybe that’s my fascination because I like to control everything — or try to.

Sara: When you were growing up around boats and on boats, did you ever encounter really bad extreme weather?

Pearl: I was born six months after Hurricane Hugo, and my parents went through Hugo in the U.S. Virgin Islands. So the eye of the storm and everything went right over them. It affected them deeply. I mean, they were fine, but they had people on boats next to them that were running aground. People were in a lot of danger. My mom swears that I was breech because I got flipped over in the hurricane.

She tried to have me on the boat, too.

Sam: Oof. 

Pearl: I was breech, so she had to get rushed to the hospital on Saint Thomas. And the hospital was still partially damaged by Hurricane Hugo. So yeah, kind of from the very beginning, everything in my life has circulated around hurricanes. We would come to the U.S. because we were escaping hurricane season in the summer, and they would work and then go back down, and we went through a couple of hurricanes on the boat. I do remember just always being fascinated by them and and wanting to read more about them. 

Sam: Sara, what was your closest hurricane encounter?

Sara: In 1996, Hurricane Fran was initially forecast to come over North Carolina, but not over Durham where I was living. But forecasts changed shortly before landfall and caught people by surprise. The eye passed over Raleigh, and in Durham, I believe we had tropical storm-force winds. I remember the storm woke me in the middle of the night. And my mom was awake, too. We stood together at the living room window, just looking at the pine trees in our yard, bending over just like they were rubber bands. 

In retrospect, it was incredibly dangerous. We probably should have gotten the rest of my family up and moved to the basement. But my mom and I just kind of watched the trees together and then went back to bed. The next morning our house was fine. We were very lucky, but a lot of people had trees come down on the roof and a lot of damage. The power was out for at least a week. I was out of school for a week. 

But I was in middle school, and I remember it with a lot of nostalgia, because no one got hurt in my immediate area and our house wasn’t damaged. It just became like this weeklong camping trip. I’ve never seen stars like that before because the power was out for the whole region. We just cooked food on the grill and I didn’t have to do homework. It was amazing.

Sam: That’s wild. I obviously have much less experience with hurricanes, growing up in the middle of the Great Lakes. But I do remember the first week that I was at school in North Carolina, I think that there was a tropical storm. And then I also graduated when we were getting the rain from a tropical storm. So just like in ponchos in the stadium [pained laugh from Sara]. But yeah. The first week that I was at Carolina, I think that there was a tropical storm, there was an earthquake, there was a tornado. And I was like, where have I arrived?

Sara: That seems Biblical. I remember that earthquake. That’s not normal for North Carolina. [everyone laughs]

What’s your favorite kind of weather? Let us know at [email protected].

Stay tuned for part 2 of this Editor’s Corner, in which we talk about the climate solutions we’re implementing in our own lives.

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