I've lived in Tennessee ongoing since 1996 and in Nashville since 2007. The weather here is nothing short of bi-polar. Or, as I call it, a cross between humid subtropical and what's going on?! One moment things are moving along quite nicely and the next, you're scrambling to adapt to harsh environmental changes raging outside the window. The intensity only seems to be increasing year-after-year.
For example, yesterday marked day one of our 2013 tornado season. The craziness came through just after the stroke of midnight, and we had watches lasting till 4 am in some areas; one person was fatally wounded when a tree uprooted and landed on the shed he was seeking shelter in. The day before, however, the therometer peaked 60 degrees Fahrenheit with calming winds and everywhere you went, people were jolly. Not me, perhaps - all of the indoor and outdoor tables were taken at Starbucks during my lunch break...
Prior to Super Tuesday in 2008, March was noted as the central beginner of when we'd expect to see funnel clouds frequently passing through until the end of May. All that changed February 5th, as registered voters casted their ballots for party nominations. The outbreak claimed 30 lives in our state, 16 more than our friend to the west (Arkansas), 26 more than our friend to the south (Alabama), and 23 more than our friend to the north (Kentucky). Two possible assumptions can be attributed: 1) Our citizens do not know how to properly prepare for a tornado, and/or 2) the storm had much more strength in Tennessee than anywhere else in its path. Both might provide some accuracy, but what about the latter? How can that really be? Why so voilent?
Without drenching ourselves in the climate change debate, there is a geographical answer as well. Tennessee sits right above the Piedmont crescent but below the artic line. It's divided into three separate topographical regions: flat-bottomed West, hilly Middle, and mountainous East.
Nashville, in particular, experiences hot summers, but not as harmful farther to the South, resulting in milder temperatures than what one might find in locations such as Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, or the Carolinas. Summertime temperatures often soar past 90, but we don't have the levels of humidity as others either, making the heat more bearable and the precipitation much less frequent. Winter does bring some occasional freezing weather and snow, but not as often as we'd like and never in time for Christmas. Low temperatures rarely drop into much more than the low 20s, and wintertime highs can be as much as 50 degrees.
Now, if stormfronts are a combination of rotating cool and warm streams, merging together in a miraculous way only found in nature, it would be logical to predict that once our warm springs or dry autumns roll around, we're an easy and perfect target for severe weather patterns.
But there's always a positive side to negativity, folks. The other half, the good half to the bi-polarity, is sometimes worth the wild, continuous ride of survival: double or triple rainbows, deep purple/pink/yellow/orange skies, bright sunsets, and communities, time and time again, coming together. See it for yourself or better yet, become one of our neighbors. We'll save you a seat on the front porch.
And in the cellar.
Written by Stephanie Brake
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