Hunt Press

Tumbled by Texas Weather

Texas weather is deeply confusing for this Californian.

In California, weather is really, really easy. The currents come down the coast from Alaska, making the water cold. The land heats up, lifting the air up, pulling the sea air in over the land, leaving the coast cold and foggy, with the effect slackening as you move southerly. Mostly, storms come from the west and the south. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you get a Pineapple Express from Hawaii, and things get warm and humid. Sometimes, the wind comes from the east over land, and things get dry and hot and everyone gets irritable. Simple.

Texas is not simple in the least. We’ve been here eight months, and I still can’t figure this place out. Every morning, I check my trusty weather apps on my phone before I even get out of bed. Wunderground first, then NWS, then the Eagle Point Buoy, then Texas Storm Chasers. They never agree, unless we’re looking at incoming hurricanes or tornadoes, then they do. Sometimes, Jason’s phone and my phone say different things on the same site, which is unnerving. I take a mental average of what they say, and then head upstairs.

On the nav table, we have a spiffy graphing barometer. It’s got a graph, to show you what the pressure’s been doing, and it’s got a gale alarm that’s adjustable. If the pressure drops more than a given amount (and you get to set that amount), you can be sure wind is coming, and y0u’ve got about 15 minutes to prepare for it. In California, anyway, that’s how it worked. Here, we get pressure drops with no wind. We get gale alarms that happen at the same time the wind arrives, which is kind of useless. I’ve been playing around with the drop setting, to no avail. And I’m having no luck in finding out barometric thresholds here. Back in CA, a .5 drop was wind, period. Here, that varies. In CA, a pressure reading of 1013 meant rain, no doubt, but there doesn’t seem to be a similar threshold here. (If I’m wrong and you know, please please please school me!!!!!)

I’m trying, I really am. I’m looking for local teachers, and asking people, but I find myself being confronted by yet another fundamental difference between Texans and Californians, and that’s their attitude towards weather. See, in California, the weather is predictable, and starts to feel almost controllable. Big weather in California is treated almost as a personal betrayal, and you can find people talking about catastrophic weather years later, with a tone of devastation. But in Texas, the weather is primal and wildly unpredictable and the people have an unflappable sort of poise and reserve. 40 knot winds? It happens. 50 degree temperature range over the course of a day? Sure. That happens. Blizzards and tornadoes and heat waves and droughts and floods? Shrug. Yeah. Texas, what did you expect? People are prepared for disaster, they’re used to adapting without making a lot of fuss, and they’re just really not all that concerned by whatever this amazing, wild, and dramatic place can throw at them.

One thing’s for sure. I’m learning a lot more about big weather here. Let’s hope I figure it out before we get off the dock and do more sailing.