One of my favorite things about growing up in Laramie, Wyoming was the afternoon thunderstorms that rolled through in the summers. Every day, it seemed, after a morning and early afternoon of sunshine, gathering clouds would darken the land, pour down rain, and fill the sky with bolts of light and thunder. Then the skies would clear, as quickly as the clouds had formed, and when you went back out the air smelled like flowers and fresh cut grass.
I moved away from Wyoming after college, a little over 25 years ago, and I’ve missed those afternoon thunderstorms ever since. For most of the time I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. (21 years), we haven’t had them. Instead, in the summers, the weather on any given day stayed pretty much the same. I always used to tell my friends, if I could change anything about D.C., it would be the weather. It would be wonderful to have those afternoon thunderstorms we had back in Wyoming, I used to say.
Well, now, thanks to climate change, the thunderstorms are back. Now we get them in D.C. They roll in just as quickly and can leave as quickly, too. Lately they’ve been arriving with almost predictable precision. It’s 6 o’clock on a Sunday as I write this, and another one is forming in the skies.
But these thunderstorms aren’t natural, and they don’t just bring rain and lightning but winds that knock down trees and power lines, taking away the one amenity — air conditioning — without which it is almost impossible to live. Just as it can’t cope with even a light snowfall, this part of the country isn’t equipped to handle sudden storms.
I like the rain. I like hearing it against my window, seeing it in the street. I like the cool air it brings. But these afternoon thunderstorms are like a wish I made against my better judgment. Who do I talk to about taking it back?