Well, one reason, anyway.
In the winter of 1994 (I believe), I was living in suburban New Jersey. I’d been in my house nearly ten years and had lived my entire 30+ year life in the New York City metro area. Although, like most people, I think snow is pretty, I never did like cold weather. And on one particular morning, I woke to 20 inches of the white stuff on my doorstep.
I couldn’t get the front “storm door” open.
If you live in Buffalo or Minnesota or Alaska or some other place where snow is a major part of your winter life, you might be thinking, “Twenty inches? Big deal.”
Well, it was a big deal to us. New York City rarely gets that kind of snowfall. And I decided that I’d had enough of it.
The following winter, I lived in Arizona for three months. The winter after that, I stayed in New Jersey, on the urging of my now husband. We had another tough winter. I vowed to move. The following winter, we had half our furniture put on a moving truck and shipped it out to Arizona. On January 1, I clearly remember shopping in the Peoria area wearing a t-shirt and jeans. No coat.
Today is a Prime Example
Not every winter in New York is brutally cold or snowy. But here’s today’s forecast for New York, courtesy of the National Weather Service:
Today…Snow. Areas of blowing snow. Total snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches. Windy. Near steady temperature in the mid 20s. North winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. Chance of snow near 100 percent.
Tonight…Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of snow showers in the evening. Windy with lows around 14. Northwest winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 20 percent. Wind chill values as low as 2 below.
2°F below 0? That’s nothing. I remember mornings in New Jersey when the thermometer registered -7°F without a wind chill factor.
Is that not enough for you? Well, there’s more. There’s also a Hazardous Weather Outlook, Short Term Forecast, Special Weather Statement, and Winter Storm Warning. They all warn about snow, cold temperatures, and wind.
Contrast that with what I’m expecting in Wickenburg, northwest of Phoenix today:
Today…Partly sunny. Highs 86 to 91. East wind 5 to 10 mph in the morning…becoming south in the afternoon.
Tonight…Partly cloudy and warmer. Lows 54 to 64. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph in the evening…becoming northwest around 5 mph after midnight.
We’ve got a Special Weather Statement, too. It warns us that due to a high pressure system, we’re likely to break record high temperatures of 90°F in Phoenix today.
All I know is that at 7:00 AM local time, we’ve got clear blue skies and a temperature climbing steadily through 48°F. Will we break a record here in Wickenburg? Probably not, but I’m thinking about wearing shorts while I do my errands.
Weather Changes Travel Plans
Of course, we do have some house guests staying with us. Mike’s mom and her friend. They’re in their 80s and not exactly what I’d call flexible travelers. They were supposed to go back to New York this morning. But yesterday, when we heard the forecast, we started working the phones. I could envision two possible outcomes if they didn’t change their travel plans:
- Waiting hours at Sky Harbor Airport for their delayed flight to depart, only to be told that it was cancelled. Mass confusion as they deal with getting new tickets for another flight, claiming their luggage, and arranging for a ride back to our house.
- Departing Sky Harbor Airport (probably late) and being forced to divert to Atlanta or Pittsburgh or some other inconvenient place, followed by mass confusion as they deal with making arrangements for the flight’s continuation, finding their luggage, getting transportation to a hotel, getting transportation back in the morning, re-checking their luggage, etc. This would be enough of a nightmare for me, a middle-aged, relatively fit person who never travels with more luggage than she can handle on her own. But for these two women, both of whom travel airports via wheelchair and have enough luggage to set up a home wherever they arrive, it would be impossible.
So we worked the phones. It took only two calls to USAirways to change their flight to the same flight on Tuesday. The sympathetic person who answered the second call made the change without an additional fee. When my mother-in-law wanted us to make sure she’d be sitting with her friend, my husband rolled his eyes and I said, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” They have middle seats in Row 20.
But at least they won’t be stuck at an airport somewhere, waiting for the storm in New York to subside.
We can only assume this was a good decision — at least for them. Their flight was scheduled to leave Phoenix at 10 AM and it’s too early to get flight status information. But there is a travel advisory to New York right now and I’m willing to bet that their flight, which was due to arrive in NYC at 4:47 PM, will be cancelled.
Back to Arizona
Going back to the main topic of conversation here: weather in New York vs. weather in Arizona. You might be thinking, “Well, if it might get up to 90°F today — in the winter — how hot does it get in the summer. The answer is brutally hot. Think 110°F +. Think frying eggs on pavement.
So I’ve apparently changed one near-extreme (I can’t consider New York’s winter weather a real extreme) for another extreme (Arizona’s summer weather is definitely extreme). What’s the benefit of that?
The main benefit is that with the money I saved from moving out of a really expensive place to live (the other reason I moved) and coming here, I’m able to get out of town for the summer. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few years.
Is there are perfect place to live? I’m starting to think there isn’t. But I will keep looking and report back if I find it.