When I first started this blog, I promised (or rather warned about) regular posts about the German weather. It (the weather) seems worthy of this (the posting) because it’s never what one expects it to be. It may or may not be hot in summer; it may or may not be cold in winter. It’s not Beständig, as we have covered before. As it turns out, however, writing about German weather has not become my favorite topic, for which I think both reader and writer are thankful.
Nonetheless I feel it is time again for a remark or two about the weather. As my North American readers already know, this winter (in North America) has been a doozy. Could that perhaps be a mild understatement? Of course I have not experienced the sub-artic temperatures with differences made between the actual temperatures (already cold enough) and the “RealFeel” temperatures (How do they actually decide on what it feels like? And what is the point: to make people more miserable by making it even colder than it is or attempting to encourage the masses by giving them an opportunity to say, “We’ve survived temperatures that felt like minus 24 (minus 31 degrees Celsius)!”?). I have not been forced to trudge through piles of snow higher than our house. (Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I would bet that’s the “RealFeel” effect of all that snow!) By now our North American friends have had enough of the ridiculously cold temperatures (at some point one runs out of interesting and worthy ways to describe the cold) and days of missed school and let’s be honest: you can only do so much sledding and build so many snowmen in one year before that too becomes tedious.
While folks in one part of the world are freezing off their hindquarters, athletes in another part are experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion. In January Australian Open officials halted play on Day 4, although it sounds like the athletes wouldn’t have been upset had it happened earlier. Temperatures reached extremes of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) with grueling humidity levels to accompany it. Tennis players were wrapping their heads in packs of ice and some literally “wilted” on the court. According to an article on weather.com: American Varvara Lepchenko received medical treatment during her match against 11th-seeded Romanian Simona Halep. “At first I didn’t understand what was going on but then my legs, my arms started to get heavier. I couldn’t focus at one point and started feeling dizzier and dizzier,” she said. The poor girl was forced (or chose?) to continue play and big surprise, won only one game. Unlike the never-ending winter in North America, temperatures in Melbourne (where the Open takes place) have calmed to a comfortable range of 37 – 39 degrees Celsius (93 – 98 degrees Fahrenheit).
In Europe, this last week has been one of extremes. According to two trusty German news agencies, ARD and ZDF, Austria and Switzerland have been hammered with so much snow, people there are concerned their roofs will not withstand the weight. I’m sure shovelling a roof is a much different experience than shovelling your ordinary sidewalk, but could we find that on your Bucket List? Electrical wires in Slovenia collapsed under the thick coating of ice, leaving 100,000 individuals without electricity. In northern Poland two bucks were rescued from a frozen river. On the southern coast of England, storm winds reached 140 km per hour (87 mph); in southern France a Spanish freighter rode the high waves right into a dam. The England and Ireland coasts are being pummelled with waves 10 to 15 meters (33 to 49 feet) high. And even Putin will have a difficult time making the weather behave for his Winter Olympics – melting bobsleigh tracks are not ideal.
One report of extreme weather after the other.
And in our little corner of the world? Are we dealing with below-freezing temperatures and extreme snow fall? Are we being forced to rescue adorable German squirrels with their pointy ears from freezing puddles? Are winds of 140 km or more blowing small children through the air? No, no. It is neither warm nor cold. It is not really rainy, foggy or especially windy (today is a bit stormier). The two times it snowed (my husband does not count the few flakes in November, but one could see white on the ground for a few minutes, so it definitely counts), it melted before I could get the kids. One evening I was excited to hear thunder, hoping for another freak snow thunderstorm like we had last year. I ran to the window and was excited to see snow (yes, I was actually excited to see it). I almost told Fenja when she woke from a bad dream, but refrained, wanting her to go back to sleep without being distracted. Good thing I didn’t share the good news with her because by the time the kids looked out the window in the morning, everything was brown and slightly green as it had been the day before. Not one itty-tiny piece of evidence that there had been snow only a few hours before.
Right now the temperature is 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit), which is about where we’ve been since the beginning of December with random “cold spells” every now and again. Last week the temperature hovered around freezing, yes making the air a bit chillier, but not cold, although the brisk east wind that accompanied it made me happy for my warmer hat that day. Every time I met someone outside (and yes there are always lots of people walking around outside – it’s a German thing) they would rub their shoulders and say, “Cold today!” Yes for our rather pathetic standards it had turned cold, but I could only think of my poor family in the US. I was able to agree unenthusiastically, instead of yelling what I was really thinking, “People, THIS is NOT cold!”
I’m not sure what to make of this extreme weather everywhere in the world, except here. There are several illogical conclusions I could make, all of which I have seriously considered:
- If we do not have a real winter (defined by cold temperatures lasting longer than a day and snow that remains longer than one night), we will not have a real summer (defined by hot temperatures lasting longer than a day with the sun shining for longer periods than it takes for the next cloud to get in the way). This is a very real and very unsettling prospect.
- Climate change is rearing its ugly head by bringing extreme weather conditions across the globe, except in Germany where we will be forced to live with nothing weather for the rest of our lives.
- People with difficult weather expectations (like me) are never satisfied. Really, I should pack up my things and move to Florida.