Rolling Thunder

The weather this summer has certainly been different from the last couple of years. The area had a record rainfall for the month of June, receiving twice as much water from the sky as had ever been recorded1 for the 30-day period. Our winter was much warmer than average and we even had a weak typhoon hit rather late into the rainy season. It's been said before, but something is different.

Looking Westward

Late into the afternoon today we had some rolling thunder. The clouds coming from over the nearby mountains stretched across the sky to the east, leaving the west a nice summertime blue. Every few minutes there would be a rumble that would start low and slow, like a bowling ball gingerly making its way down the lane. Thirty seconds into the buildup the sound would either disappear or sound like a wave crashing into the side of a rocky pier. For two hours we were treated to this odd performance while the sky turned pink from the sunset.

Looking Eastward

Nozomi didn't seem to mind the noise, as the unstable weather made for a pretty decent breeze while we were out in the park. Generally the heat and humidity of the season tends to reach unbearable levels by 9 o'clock in the morning, with air so still that walking through it feels like pushing into a closet full of pillow fluff. Any amount of breeze is better than none, and the puppy certainly enjoyed having her fur cooled a little better while we made the daily trek along the evening course2.

Weather certainly changes over time and anomalies can make for some irregular patterns. What I wonder more than anything is how the farmers are being affected. Vegetables and fruit at the markets have almost doubled in price in the last three years, with apples and peaches selling for about $2 individually. Broccoli is generally sold for $3 while a pack of four tomatoes is $5. Bananas from the Philippines, however, have been stable at $2.50 a bunch for the better part of three years. Higher food prices will drive people to consume more of the processed foods, which is just a poor substitute for farm-fresh products. This isn't a good cycle.

Today's unusual atmospheric show took place at a safe distance, but the changing weather patterns are hitting very close to home.

  1. According to the city, temperature and weather records started in the mid 1800s, though the first 75 years of data is not at all accurate. Temperatures are +/- 5˚C, and rainfall was measured in boolean Yes/No terms.

  2. Nozomi and I have five "courses" that we can take in the park depending on the weather and how energetic she's feeling. Generally in the evening we walk around the baseball diamond as there's plenty to keep her nose busy without tiring her out too much before dinner.