I've always been a real weather fiend. I love the way it can change people's moods and plans as well as the physical changes it brings about in the world around us. When you live in the Maritimes it is a constant topic of conversation. Mostly people just complain about it but the weather changes so often here that as the saying goes, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute."
My house is a forty minute drive from the equator. That means that I live in a very 'temperate' zone. Being on the coast also helps with that. Our summers are pleasant and a warm summer day ranges between 22 and 27 degrees celcius. I tend to like the upper range of those numbers. Winters here are cold but not nearly as bad as other places I've lived. Many times we'll get a dumping of snow and a cold snap and then it is followed up by a chilly rain. The temperature usually hovers just below freezing but we do get the odd run of colder temps accompanied by a windchill which drives the mercury even lower but these are balanced with mid-winter thaws so it's not so bad.
This summer has been an exceptional one for weather. We have had very little rain and the temperatures have been higher than normal. This past week we've been experiencing temps in the mid-thirties with humidex values in the low forties. I've been loving it but I haven't had to travel on city transit and we have a little portable air conditioner so my house has been quite comfortable. I have enjoyed my walks in the extreme heat though. It makes me feel like I'm on a tropical vacation.
Nova Scotia children went back to school this past Thursday. That's earlier than usual and there was much debate over whether it was wise with the heat being what it has been. Our schools are not equipped with air conditioning. Heating is much more important and it just doesn't get that hot from September to June. My poor son just had his wisdom teeth surgically removed on Tuesday so I only allowed him to go in to get his course descriptions, etc. He was given strict instructions to stay cool and get plenty of rest by the oral surgeon. I was in his school. It was like a giant sauna and the kids looked like they were melting.
The big send-off to our glorious summer is the impending Hurricane Earl. All week people have been flocking to the stores to buy bottled water, flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food and lots of beer. When a storm approaches beer and water seem to be the hot items flying off the shelves around here. When they weren't in the grocery stores, the masses were migrating to the shoreline. The beaches were packed and everyone was in the water. It's not very often that the ocean temperatures are warm enough for full on swimming but this week there were more people in the water than on the sand...myself included.
Yesterday my husband took the afternoon off and we headed to a nearby beach. It was packed but we found a parking spot and wandered down to the water's edge. With Earl on his way up the coast the waves were already getting rough. I went in hip-deep and the sand was giving way beneath my feet as if there were steps going down, the further you went out. It was hard to keep my footing as wave after wave hit me, almost knocking me down towards the shore and then the undertow pulled me the other way. The motion of it made me laugh along with all the others in there with me. Many adults were jumping the water like children, giggling and letting the waves knock them down. It felt amazing...not too cold or too warm...perfection.
Last night when I headed to bed around midnight, it was foggy, hot and humid outside. There was an eerie stillness...the calm before the storm. I woke up at 6:20 and it was gray outside but no sign of Earl yet. How quickly things change! I came down to the main floor of my house about half an hour ago. There were mild wind gusts and the odd droplet on the window pane. Now it is a very different story. I am sitting beside a large window facing my backyard which is littered with many trees. The wind is very high with really strong gusts and the rain is pelting down like someone turned a huge hose on. Our satellite dish has already called it quits and there are 1200 people in our province without power.
I live in neighbourhood where we are on wells instead of city water. This poses a real problem for a frequent handwasher like me. The first time I moved to a place with a well, I had no idea why people were telling me to fill my bathtub as storms approached. I didn't realize that an electric pump brings the water to the house so no power equals no water. We fill the tub just so we can flush the toilets. We always have tons of bottled water on hand as a rule so we're fine that way.
The Weather Network is showing video footage of the coastline at Peggy's Cove which is about half an hour from my home. I would love to be there but the RCMP are warning people to stay off the coastal roads and all beaches are closed. I will definitely be there this evening or tomorrow morning though. The after effects are always amazing. There are always those die-hard storm fanatics however that flee to the coast hoping to get that perfect photo and put themselves into extremely dangerous positions. I see it all the time at Peggy's Cove. I often go out when the weather is a bit unsettled and I see tourists edging further and further out on the rocks, closer and closer to the crashing waves. I don't know if they don't realize how powerful the ocean can be or if they believe they have super human strength or what. It sometimes results in needless tragedy.
The wind has picked up even more as I've been writing and I fear we may soon join our fellow Bluenosers who have lost power already. I will be watching every minute of the storm and hoping that these trees bending dangerously close to my house remain intact and don't come crashing through roof or window. I should begin calling my family members to check in and see if they are alright. My mother and my recently widowed Aunt get pretty worked up about these storms. I have a cat and a dog and they are nervously pacing, never sitting long enough to fall asleep which is what they would normally be doing at this time of day. It looks like it should be an interesting day. I do love to watch storms but I hate to see the damage they can do. My fingers are crossed in hopes that Earl will bring a spectacular show without destroying too much in his path. Wish me luck! Stay tuned...