It has rained 47 of the last 52 days. People have been sounding the alarm about possible drought for the past year. I think we are past the danger. All I know is that, if anyone starts yammering about “drought” right now, they will be drowned by the rain falling into their open mouths.
Before I run down to the shipyard to get the ark out of dry dock, let me put this soggy statistic in perspective. Yes, the rain seems relentless, but it isn’t quite so dramatic as it might sound. “Rain” can be anything from twenty minutes of the sky sweating around twilight to overpowering thunderstorms of Armageddon proportions. It can be hours of pounding, blinding swirling walls of water that make you feel like you have been caught in a clothes washer. On the other hand, it can be a light, refreshing shower that is a blessed relief from the oppressive, humid heat that has boiled the day away.
It is hard to plan anything around the weather in the summer in Florida. Clearly, people cannot stop their daily activities because the forecast calls for the ubiquitous “rain.” Since the prediction calls for at least a 60% chance of rain almost every day and history shows that it actually does rain on far more than 60% of days, we would all have to zip-lock ourselves into our self-contained, air-conditioned houses if we are determined to avoid “rain.” We have to be a little more creative if we want to strike a balance between hermetically sealed and waterlogged.
For one thing, savvy Floridians don’t just check the day-to-day forecast when making plans. Our weather reporters give updates on the exact time they expect rain to hit specific city neighborhoods. They are amazingly accurate. We are also pretty sophisticated weather.com users. It is commonplace to see people at Disney World huddled under canopies during rainstorms, feverishly working their phones to track the precipitation minute-by-minute to determine when they should make a dash for the Space Mountain line.
The real problem is beyond the timing issue. It is that the word “rain” is just so ambiguous. They say the peoples of the frozen north have dozens or even hundreds of words for snow. People who live in central Florida should have at least that many words for rain. It would make it so much easier to plan my activities if I knew just how intrusive the day’s particular rain is expected to be. I’d like to propose a few new vocabulary words to help clarify the peskiness level of rain.
Twizzling– This is the soft, warm rain that falls like the sun nearly every night around twilight. If you are inside, you might not even realize it is raining. If you are outside, it takes a minute to realize that the moisture you feel is actually droplets of precipitation, as opposed to the sweat that has been gathering on your skin all freakin’ day. Twizzling is good. No significant peskiness quotient at all, unless you just washed your car. And if you did just wash your car, what were you thinking?
Soggifying– This rain is prolonged and intermittent. It isn’t hard enough to impair visibility. It doesn’t involve ferocious wind or chilly drenching. Still, if you go out in the soggify, you are going to be uncomfortable unless you can hide under an umbrella. You usually can’t wait it out because it may go on for hours. It is sneaky, too. It may seem like it is over, but will start up again twenty minutes after clearing. Super high peskiness factor. There is just no getting around it. Soggifying will pretty much put a crimp in any plans that don’t involve just staying home.
Tantraining– The skies darken menacingly and thunder booms alarmingly. It seems to come from nothing and looks a lot scarier than it is. There may be a few flashes of lightning, culminating in a short, feverish burst of angry rain. The whole thing reminds me of a toddler throwing a hissy fit…loud, explosive, and over as suddenly as it began. Tantraining is pesky while it is happening, but is usually over within 30 minutes.
Stealthsoaking- This is the “Camelot” version of rain… it never falls till after sundown and by eight am the morning dew must disappear. Many nights, the skies open gently and a slow, steady rain waters the earth while most of us are sleeping. It is the sort of rain that would cause Lerner and Loewe to suggest that there is simply not a more congenial spot for happilyeveraftering than central Florida. Stealthsoaking is a pretty darn convenient kind of rain with a low peskiness quotient… unless you work the swing shift or engage in midnight gardening activities.
Thunderwowers– These are the terrible, wrathful thunderstorms that make the earth slosh. They feel as though they are never going to stop. The sound of the thunder makes you think that you have happened into a time warp and World War I is still under way except that they didn’t fight World War I underwater. The rain is so thick and choppy, driving becomes more of an adventure than it should be. You can’t see what is in front of you, but can’t pull off to the side of the road to wait for a break in the storm because you can’t see what is on the side of you either.
I think that adding these words to our weather language would help meteorologists be a lot more specific in reporting the rain forecast. I’d like to champion their inclusion, but I’m not sure where to go to propose them. Apparently, everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it!
What is the wackiest weather you have ever experienced? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.