The psychological toll is mounting.
Seattle residents unaccustomed to a record-breaking stretch of sun and warmth are reacting with guilt, anxiety, and discomfort. I cannot count the number of emails I have received by folks asking when the clouds and rain will return. For some there is almost a tone of desperation.
The origins of many of these psychological symptoms can be traced to a number of sources, including:
(1) we are uneasy with unexpected and unusual weather conditions
(2) others fear that we will have to "pay back" later with unpleasant, severe weather. Many folks believe in a law of balance: if you have extraordinarily good weather now, bad weather has to follow. Ancient wisdom.
(3) others fear that the drought reflects global warming caused by mankind or is payback for some communal bad deeds.
Media coverage reflects these uncomfortable feelings. For example, ESPN and other local media sports outlets ask whether the drought might have been caused by a terrible misdeed: the ejection of the sainted Ichiro by the Mariners. They note that is hasn't rained since Ichiro left town. Coincidence or causality?
Others wonder whether the rain will ever return, either due to a communal misdeed or climate change:
Some media outlets are asking citizens whether they want the drought to stop, as if local residents have the power to alter nature's course. And, of course, this article includes a poll.
As many of you know, I have problems with some of the headlines in the Seattle Times, which are often sensationalistic and sometime without factual basis. (In fact, I got removed from Public Radio Station KUOW for noting an incorrect headline about University of Washington admissions). But recently the ST crossed the line regarding a headline dealing with its favored gubernatorial candidate and the drought (note: this has NOT been photoshopped).
Mayor McGinn, well respected for his formidable success in dealing with snow, is taking active steps to calm a nervous city about another potential environmental calamity. Anyone who is on the Mayor's twitter feed would have received this timely message yesterday:
That is what is mean by leadership. Today we tied the previous second-longest dry spell and tomorrow we will have passed it. 46 days without measurable rain.