On St. Louis Weather

From The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler:

Then it was really hot. The air was thick, wet, steamy and larded with the cloying smell of tropical orchids in bloom. The glass walls and roof were heavily misted and big drops of moisture splashed down on the plants….I stood up and peeled off my coat and got a handkerchief out and mopped my face and neck and the backs of my wrists. St. Louis in August had nothing on that place.

I first read that a little over a year ago, a few months before I was about to move to St. Louis. The fact that I would soon be in the place (and month) that Chandler had chosen to compare on its heat and humidity scared me. A lot.

I’ve grown accustomed to St. Louis weather now at least a dozen times. I never stay acclimated for long. As Laura’s father put it the other day, “if you don’t like the weather in St. Louis, just wait a little while.” The unfortunate corollary is that if you do like the weather in St. Louis, it won’t last long. I grew up on the San Francisco coast, where it is permanently 65&#176 and cloudy. It’s not so much the extreme temperatures I can’t stand so much as that my body reacts very poorly to change of climate.

Today’s example: We went out for dinner. All day, up to and including when we went into the restaurant, it had been warm and sunny. The sky was blue and it was a relatively nice day. I was wearing a thin T-shirt. Half an hour later, when we emerged from the restaurant, the sky was gray, and the air was filled with raindrops the size of small poodles. To this moment, I have no idea where the rain came from. Laura claims this is normal, but it’s completely against my idea of how rain works. Where I come from, if it’s going to rain, the sky clouds over, it gets dark, it gets misty, begins to drizzle, and eventually raindrops appear. You’ve got at least three or four hours notice.

Laura says the rain was inevitable given the humidity today. I guess the theory is that the air fills up with water, and eventually the water forms drops and then falls on you and makes you wet? I guess I can understand that, but it still doesn’t seem right. Although I’m sad to be leaving St. Louis, I am a little bit glad not to have to spend a whole summer here.

Thanks to Microsoft, whenever I see an image of a green field with a blue sky, I reflexively think of Windows XP. The other day, on TV, I saw cows grazing in such a scene. My immediate thought: Windows XP running on a Gateway.

2 thoughts on “On St. Louis Weather

  1. Now from a scientific point of view large raindrops (Slashdot – Feb 9, 2008 … (20013) reach a terminal velocity which appears to be about 20mph, or about 32km/h, or about 9 m/s for extremely large drops in huge storms … Now if that was a poodle! Watch out!!

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