Science has never been my strong suit. Blame it on cultural conditioning — the thinking in some circles (while I was growing up) that decreed math and science as school subjects for the boys while reading and English and social studies were topics that girls excelled in. Or perhaps it was merely just a lack of motivation on my part or (more likely) just that I was indeed more interested in reading (which I always have been).
So while I plodded along during science class – always doing my homework and paying attention in class – when it came to studying the weather I truly did struggle to comprehend. Show me pictures of the different cloud types and I simply drew a blank: whether grade school, junior high or high school science class, I was at a loss to differentiate an altocumulous from a cirrus. To this day I still don’t understand how high pressure vs. low pressure impacts the seven-day forecast.
As a non-traditional student, first at a local community college and then later in pursuit of my bachelor’s degree at Iowa State University, I originally set out to major in mathematics. I remember being very surprised to learn that one of the students in my calculus classes wanted to major in meteorology. He told me he’d always been fascinated by the weather. This was a foreign concept to me. Fascinated by the weather? Seriously? Of all the things to be fascinated by in this huge, beautiful, complex world of ours it would never have occurred to me that weather might be at the top of the list for some folks. Before I finished with my degree I would meet two others similarly enthralled with the science and ‘mystery’ in the skies above us – one of whom is currently a meteorologist for one of the local channels here in Des Moines.
Older and presumably wiser now I do have more of an appreciation for the weather if not exactly for the science behind it. I have always loved thunderstorms and I say this only half-jokingly but someday I would like to actually witness a tornado with my own eyes. Hurricanes are one phenomenon of nature that is hard for us land-locked Midwesterners to comprehend – thankfully! – but I am still in awe of the power and forcefulness (and the destruction) these storms are capable of unleashing. Living on a golf course that is fully open to the western sky, winter storms and blizzards are a mighty sight to behold as the winds and snow come ripping along the fairway outside our north-facing windows. Trudging through waist-high drifts once the storms have passed it is utterly amazing to ponder how such wind-blown beauty could possibly result from laying on one small snowflake upon another and another and another again. Over and over. Mind-boggling, really.
So yes, I suppose you could say that I too now have a fascination for the weather and what can be wrought by the wrath and fury (and delight) of Mother Nature. Now if I could just get this low pressure thing figured out…