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Thursday, 23 July 2009


We love discussing the weather in England, or maybe we are just a bit obsessed by the dullness of it. I know my wife gets tired of hearing her co-workers complain about the heat/cold, rain or lack of it, every morning.

Almost every day in London all year round can be summed up as "dry with scattered showers". Even in the middle of Summer, there hasn't been a dry 24-hour period since we returned from Eugene on 6th July.

It'd be nice to know in the morning whether or nor one needed an umbrella or sunglasses and factor 40, but frankly we have it easy. At least the weather in London is unlikely to kill you, and there are lots of buildings to shelter in.

The US is plagued by hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, monsoon-like cloudburts, droughts, threat of Tsunamis (we saw many warning signs on the Pacific coast), earthquakes, volcanoes, massive snowfalls in northern states, wildfires caused by lightning strikes, or the steamy heat and humidity in some of the southern states.

My in-laws in the Houston area have had to flee or shelter from hurricanes three times in the five years since I've know them, and my own post-wedding plans in Florida were affected by Hurricane Wilma. We saw much damage in Miami still waiting to be repaired several months after the storm, and a hotel we had planned to stay at in the Everglades cancelled our reservation because it was reduced to kindling.

Last year a Houston hotel reservation was cancelled, and only my brother-in-law's thinking to check ensured we had a room to stay in over Christmas. I moan about the rain here, but I've never had a UK Hotel cancel my booking because of the weather, and not even bother to inform me.

We also avoid the Hurricane corridor that stretches across from Texas to Florida, and the cyclones that can build up in the fields of the mid-west.

Part of the answer to the "Why Eugene" question is that the weather there is unlikely to try to kill you, or destroy your house and property. Far enough east of the West Coast not to be affected by Tsumanis, too far north to be affected by Californian earthquakes, far enough south to avoid heavy snow falls in Winter, and far enough west to be out of the "killing zone" if Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park ever decides to turn into a fully fledged volcanic eruption, as Discovery Channel drama-documentaries are keen to remind us is long overdue. If that one goes off, by the way, the ash fallout is likely to land as far away as Washington and Philadelphia if the prevailing Westerly winds are blowing at the time.

In fact we chose Eugene partly because the weather ir pretty much like London's, wtih much the same annual rainfall, except it rains more when it rains, and suns more when it suns.


  1. Dear Martin - I have just discovered your blog. Taking a break from packing for our move from Dublin to Seattle. Reading through some of your previous entries I see that we are having parallel experiences. My husband is Irish, I'm the American. One of our sons and his family are in Seattle so we want to be closer to them.

  2. Hi Willisweaver,

    Seattle was the first city I ever visited in the US, lots goping on and a great, young, lively city. Make sure you do the "Underground Tour" sometime.

    I've beent o Dublin too several times - Seattle probably gets as much rain but overall feels bigger and cleaner.

  3. Reading back to the beginning Martin.
    You've left out floods. The serious threats we face here in Eugene area are floods, wind storms, ice storms, volcanic eruptions, and the threatened earthquake from the subduction zone off the coast. We had a few small quakes about 15 years ago when I first moved down here form Portland. Nothing lately though we are due for a large coastal one (possibly up to a 9). Not that anyone is actually much ready for it should it happen. Floods tare he one thing to be concerned about when you go to looking for a house/land to purchase. The Mohawk river floods pretty regularly still and there is some risk from Amazon creek though it hasn't topped it's banks all the way since I've been here. Basically if you are too close to a river you will have to have flood insurance (required by mortgage companies and a good idea anyway). I am far enough I don't have to, so as long as the dams up the Willamette don't burst I am fine. Forest fires in this area of the state pretty much every year, but not anything close to the urban areas typically. Occaisional grass fires in the summer in some places, but again less risk the more urban you are. Ice storms far less common here than up by Portland. We've had a lot of wind this autumn, but not anything strong enough to do damage. It does happen every couple of years though. It's been about 30 years since the last major volcanic eruption (Mt St Helens in SW Washington). Being ont he Pacific Rim there is always a chance of any random volcano going off, but these day's they are pretty good at knowing when one is building up to it.
    There is no place where there isn't some risk from nature. As things go though I agree this is a pretty safe area. I've never felt particularly threatened here like those on the gulf coast must.