A tornado touched down in Anoka County on Tuesday. Yeah? you say. Call me when something unusual happens. This is the weather of the summer of 2011: glum, dreary misery interrupted by sporadic catastrophe. We are living in a disaster movie directed by Ingmar Bergman.
Oh, the sun'll come out soon, of course, and given the way these things work, any column on Thursday complaining about a trend is immediately followed by contradictory evidence on Friday. Which is why I'm writing about it: If it's sunny and decent today, this column is mostly responsible. But we all know spring was wretched, and June has been a clammy disaster. Temps have been 28 degrees below normal for 87 days, to cite just one statistic I made up. As long as I'm making things up, let's answer your weather questions. You there, in the back, in the parka.
What's the 14-day forecast look like?
It's a chart with two weeks, arranged in a two-column grid.
Shut up. You know what I mean.
Well, these things are subject to change, but the computer models show rain in the metro next week, with clouds so thick they will have to set off dynamite in the clouds so the planes can land. On Wednesday, the sun will come out exactly at 1 p.m. and see its shadow, which means six more weeks of this stuff. On Thursday, the computer models show lots of soldiers engaged in a harrowingly realistic gun battle, but that's because the meteorologists are playing lots of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" these days.
How about the Fourth?
Not a lot of snow.
What's to blame for this?
There are several theories. Some say the jet stream is sagging low, pulling down Canadian air, which is bilingual, and this collides with a mass of air saturated with English speech, causing spittle, or "rain." Some theories blame the appearance of El Niño, a Pacific Ocean phenomenon responsible for cold weather, hot weather, drought, flooding, ennui, Lady Gaga's decision to wear underarm toupees, bacon-flavored vodka and TV weatherpersons blaming everything on El Niño. This phenomenon alternates with La Niña, which moves counterclockwise and is responsible for the same things, but in reverse order. Of course we can't underestimate the role of the sun, which is apparently in a cycle where it hands out photons on a need-to-know basis; a period of reduced sunspot activity is underway, and we might have a small Ice Age, complete with mastodons and the implacable advance of glaciers scraping south until International Falls is a northern suburb. The glaciers will take 15,000 years to reach the metro, but some people will still wait until the day before to start boxing things up for the move. Man, they'll be up all night.
A new theory, gaining traction among some scientists, blames Howard G. Torgerson, of Motley, Minn. He invoked an ancient Sumerian weather deity by accident while reading aloud the ingredients on a soda can and thus must be sacrificed on a pyramid in an elaborate ceremony. A bill that would fund construction of the pyramid has stalled in the Legislature and is unlikely to be taken up this session. Reached for comment, Mr. Torgerson said he was pleased by the reprieve but hoped a compromise could be reached, where both sides agree on a workable, practical budget, and maybe he just has to stand on a chair while someone gives him a wedgie.
Why are we getting all these tornadoes?
You've heard the theory that a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, and this sets disturbances in the air that are eventually magnified into hurricanes -- well, science has made great strides at locating this butterfly, with the hopes it can be persuaded to just sit still for a while. Also, it just seems as if we have more tornadoes, thanks to modern scientific advancements like Doppler radar and video cameras. Previously, a rotating cloud would touch down, scribble havoc, throw cows through barn walls, and people would say, "What the hell was that? If only we had a word for it." Now we're able to accurately classify these things.
Will it ever get better?
Sure. We'll have a protracted streak of hard-pounding sun with high humidity, and by the end we'll forget all about June. Why, trends indicate that a cold wet spring and June mean a perfect summer with a warm fall and a mild short winter.
Except when it doesn't.
Ah. Lived here awhile, have you?