She's got the power, weather-wise

Oct 12, 2012 By Steven R. Peck

There's something about my wife, Yale and the elements

When my wife and I go to Connecticut to visit son Robert in college, residents of the Constitution State are worried.

At least they ought to be.

Shawn, you see, has the power. A lot of married men would say that about their wives, but I am talking about something more than the familiar wifely influence. This is something more.

My wife affects the weather in Connecticut.

There is no mumbo-jumbo involved, no rain dances or shrunken heads of meteorologists. Nor is there some application of science, at least not one she does knowingly.

But the facts don't lie.

When Shawn and I took Robert for a campus visit to Yale in July 2010, the temperature during our tour of the lovely old campus was 102 degrees.

The average temperature for a July day in New Haven, a city on Long Island Sound that is kept cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter by ocean breezes, is 81 degrees.

I'm no Yale math student, but these figures I can handle. That 102-degree temperature was 26 percent warmer than average. If the same percentage increase occurred in Riverton, our thermometer would hit 111 degrees. And that has never happened.

We didn't think much of it at the time, other than how hot it was, and it probably wouldn't have crossed our minds again had Robert not received the hoped-for e-mail seven months later. He was in.

He and I drove 2,100 miles to campus in August 2011 as he registered for his freshman year. Shawn was coming too, but she flew east separately from our road trip. We got there on a Thursday afternoon, greeted by soft breezes, clear skies, and temperatures near 80 degrees. Perfect.

Shawn arrived the next day. And so did Hurricane Irene.

Even part-time weather watchers know that a hurricane from the Caribbean isn't supposed to travel eight states to the north and lay waste to New England. But this one did. Irene introduced herself to us land-lubbing Wyomingites in unforgettable fashion.

We were delayed three days. Fifty-thousand flights were canceled. Shawn missed teaching the first day of school at Rendezvous Elementary.

There were a few jokes when we got home of the hope-you-didn't-bring-that-weather-home-with-you variety. No. No, we didn't. My wife's power is reserved for Connecticut.

I paid a visit to Robert in September of that year and enjoyed meteorological clemency. That means nice weather.

Then, the following month, I returned again, this time for Yale Family Weekend. Shawn came along this time.

The next day came the Great Halloween Blizzard of 2011. Snow poured down like flour from a sifter. Everything was buried. Snowfall records fell in 20 cities in the state. A thousand trees on the Yale campus were damaged. My cousin, Harriette Trevino, lives in nearby Monroe, Conn., and her house was without electricity for three days.

This time the travel delay was only about eight hours. We finally reached Denver just before 11 p.m. Needing to get home for work, we rented a car, paid a $250 drop-off fee, and pulled into our driveway at 4 a.m.

In April 2012, I visited again. Springtime in Connecticut was sparkling, with flowering trees in bloom and the grass greening. Fabulous.

Then, two months ago, I rode with Robert cross country again and helped him move into his new residential suite on campus. Not a drop of rain, nary a gust of wind, and if there was a cloud in the sky we couldn't find it.

Are you sensing a pattern? Read on.

We attended the wedding of Brett Newlin and Ashleigh Kreider on Sept. 8 in suburban Philadelphia, then decided to dash to New Haven for a quick visit to the son. Minutes after the wedding, the skies darkened. Lighting sparked through the clouds. The skies opened wide, and an utterly fantastic downpour began. In the 10 seconds it took to sprint from the reception to the shuttle van taking us to our train station, we were drenched to the wringing point. Wet T-shirt contest. I could have won the wet business-suit contests.

We dripped all the way to Connecticut on the train and called Robert when we got in, hoping for a late dinner.

"I might not be able to," he said. "We are being advised to stay in our rooms."


"There's a tornado warning."

Let's tally up: Three visits from Dad, three periods of weather perfection. Four visits by Dad and MOM, a statistically aberrant heatwave, a hurricane, the blizzard of the century, and tornado sightings.

Shawn ought to harness this ability for the good of humanity. Or bottle it for sale.

If Yale makes the connection between my wife and emergency weather --and the people there are pretty good at making connections --our kid could get expelled for facilitating the reckless endangerment of the Whiffenpoofs.

Now another family weekend on campus is at hand.

We got here Thursday night.

Tsunami, anyone?

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