In July, while you were enjoying the blue skies and ideal temperatures of northeast Ohio in the summertime, I was enjoying a vacation in Oregon. The temperature in Portland? One hundred seven. Portland is usually more pleasant, of course, and heat waves like that one are fairly rare. But it made me think about climate . . . and more particularly about the climate in northeast Ohio.
On the trip back, the flight via Houston crossed through eastern Oregon, part of Idaho, a slice of Utah, a corner of Colorado, the panhandle of Oklahoma, and lots and lots of Texas. Flying over Dallas, I recalled the summer of 1962. I lived in an un-air-conditioned fraternity house at sum. Ninety degrees at midnight was not that unusual. My fraternity brothers and I welcomed a tornado warning. Severe weather usually brought a brief break in the heat.
And I thought from the perspective of thirty thousand feet about the highway blocking blizzards in Wyoming. Sandstorms in Utah. Crippling drought in eastern Oregon. Tornadoes aplenty in Oklahoma. Hurricanes in Houston. Wind-fanned firestorms in arid southern California.
Here’s the bottom line. Most places, the weather tends to be worse, on average, than it ever is here, and the extremes tend to be a lot more extreme. Just try playing golf in Phoenix after nine am on a July morning. Or walk across the Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis in February. Or try a bike ride in Orlando on a fine summer afternoon. The weather service records make it clear. Northeast Ohio has more moderate temperatures, lower risk from severe weather, and less danger of drought and flood than most other places you might name.
Sure, weather in Cleveland can be interesting. And I would hate to think that we would stop complaining about it entirely. In February, if it were not for the weather and the cave’s, what would we talk about? But how often, when you stop to think about it, does the weather dictate to us what we can and cannot do? Heavy snow? Time for the snowshoes and the sleds. It gets really cold? The pond’s ready for ice skating.
So what am I suggesting? That every now and then we pause, look at the map, and admit that, for all our complaining, we live in a climate that’s not so bad after all. And in fact it’s better for year ‘round living than most other places.