The Amazing Weather in the Midwest


Bismarck, North Dakota (September 2001)

Weather is a big deal here in the Midwest.  In fact, the Weather Channel is one of the most popular channels here.  People on the West Coast watch the Weather Channel to see if they should wear a light sweater or a heavy sweater the next day.  People in the Midwest watch it to see if they should wear shorts or a heavy parka the next day.  The reason that weather's a big deal here, of course, is because it changes so rapidly.  There's a giant, frozen land mass (which some people call "Canada") to the north and the very warm and humid Gulf of Mexico to the south, and where they meet is a war zone known as the Midwest. 


Above:  King Kong lives (!) and apparently repairs car dents in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Everyone in the country jokes that if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes and it'll change.  It's no joke here in the Midwest, because it really does change that fast and you get lots of interesting events here, like tornados (which don't occur anywhere else in the world), incredibly intense lightning storms, and massive hail storms, all of which I've been trying to dodge during my current journey around America.  During my current visit to Bismarck, I've seen countless cars pockmarked from recent hail storms.


The first few days that I spent in North Dakota were warm and sunny, but I had this nagging instinct to keep looking over my shoulder.  I couldn't figure out what it was until I realized that, having lived in the Midwest for many years, I knew that the weather can change extremely fast in the fall, which is exactly what happened.  One day, the temperature topped 100 degrees and a strong wind whipped through the campground.  The next day, as the front moved through, the temperature reached only 70, and only 59 the day after that.  That 41-degree drop in two days is what you call a "Cold Front," my friends, and it's standard fare in the Midwest. 


A week later, I was wearing shorts one sunny morning and the temperature was 75 when I walked into the Bismarck library.  I walked out a few hours later around 1 p.m. and the temperature had plunged to 49 and I shivered in the cold, cloudy, windy weather.  Just typical weather in the Midwest.


We think we have cold fronts in the Pacific Northwest where the temperature drops maybe 5 or 10 degrees in a day or two, but they're nothing like the cold fronts in the Midwest.  Like I say, weather is big here.