Weather in stories

ice2You often find on the lists of ‘what-not-to-do’ in writing includes don’t write about the weather. This arises from the ‘it was a dark and stormy night’ cliché, but like any rule, you learn them to understand when to break them.

We’re about to face Hurricane Sandy here in Maryland. Other disasters I’ve encountered in my life included the Blizzard of ‘77 in upstate New York and an F1 tornado. Its this type of weather than often lends to some amazing story-telling.

The weather affects people, just as it affects characters. I know of people who are seriously phobic about storms, while others are charged up with the idea of something dramatic happening.

Such ‘acts of God’ also serve the writer to force a character into a situation, such as remaining home, or worse, if a character gets lost in a storm or flood. Life threatening situations lead to strong character development.

From my own experiences, I remember;

– The fear of seeing the sky turn an odd green hue, that is often described when tornados form.

-Seeing the foot wide tree twisted in half and dropped into the neighbor’s yard. (Thankfully it didn’t hit any roofs).

– I remember seeing so many neighbors out helping one another after the storm. I felt such a surge of community then.

– In the blizzard, I remember food became a bit scarce after the third week and we had to kill some of our chickens for dinner.

– Sledding off the roof of our house into the snow that reached the edge of the roof.

– Not seeing the car for weeks. It was completely buried.

– I remember the double-decker snow fort my father made for my sisters and me, complete with tunnel slide with arm holes where he could reach in and grab us.

-Learning of a classmate that nearly froze to death after a tunnel of snow collapsed on him. He was lucky and survived.

– Understanding the most valuable lesson in any of these events….how to endure. Its all about the attitude you bring that will make it easier or harder on you.

What are your personal stories of dramatic weather? Share some disaster stories in comments below.

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2 responses to “Weather in stories

  1. I “survived” the Ice Storm of ’98. It hit New England right at the end of Christmas vacation, so we ended up with a couple extra weeks off. My little brother and I ended up bunking with one of my friend’s and their family because they had working wood stoves. It was kind of fun, and the scenery was eerily pretty – everything covered and bowing from all the ice. Some went without power for months, which isn’t much fun in the middle of winter in Maine.

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    • Hikes I remember the news about that. My father lived in Upstate at the time, and survived with a motorcycle battery running a heater and small stove. He moved down here in the south after that. I hope this storm doesn’t leave people without power for months or weeks. Let’s hope it passes quickly. Stay safe.

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