Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Parker Heinlein
Outdoors columnist 

Mosquitoes, wind better than hurricanes


September 11, 2019

My cousin promised to call when Dorian hits. He said he’ll hold the phone outdoors so I can hear the storm.

While we experience a lot of severe weather in Montana, thank goodness hurricanes aren’t on the menu. They seem to be a very high price to pay for the luxury of living in a warmer clime.

When Barb and I moved to Malta nearly 15 years ago we were warned by the locals about the mosquitoes, the cold, and the wind.

The mosquitoes – it turned out – are truly beyond compare, swarming the dry prairie as if it’s a tropical rain forest. They remain a persistent pest until the first frost.

Which can’t get here soon enough.

Until it does, and then quickly turns summer, mosquitoes, and warmth into a distant memory.

It does get cold here, but where in Montana doesn’t it?

That leaves the wind, which does blow a bit up here, but nothing like it blows in Livingston. There, the sound of plastic shopping bags in the trees snapping in the wind lasts all winter.

But it’s a sound you get used to, unlike the screaming, unrelenting wind of a hurricane.

My cousin calls every winter when the mercury dips to frigid levels in Montana, and tells me how warm it is in sunny Florida. I return the favor when hurricanes threaten, and he spends days in the Weather Channel’s cone of uncertainty.

The only comparable threat we experience are wildfires, which just like hurricanes, often force evacuations before changing direction and heading elsewhere.

Violent weather passes quickly in Montana. Seldom do storms last for days. Although folks in Montana are fond of saying if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes, you can sometimes wait a month or more before it changes.

Hot and dry periods seem to last a very long time. So does cold and snowy weather. Life-threatening weather events, however, are rare. We’re much more likely to freeze to death than die in a tornado or drown in a flood.

If Dorian stays off the coast on its journey north my cousin may only have to pick up a few branches from the yard. If the storm wanders inland he may lose his house. It’s a threat he’s lived with most of his life.

Listening to the scream of the storm over the telephone makes me glad I live where I do. I’ll take the cold, the wind and the mosquitoes over warm weather any day.

Parker Heinlein is at [email protected]


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