The Devil Must Be Beating His Wife…

Hurricane Frederick formed on August 28 and slammed into the Alabama/Mississippi coast line on September 13, 1979.  The map is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It shows the track of the storm from when it formed off the African coast and dissipated over New York State.

If you are from the South, then you have heard someone make this comment before. When I was a child growing up in Alabama, my mom always used it. The phrase refers a day when the sun is shining and it is raining at the same time. It is important to point out that even on rainy days, the sun is still shining. Its just the clouds are blocking the sun rays from penetrating the ground. The other day, I was on my way home from work and the sun was visible in the distance but we were experiencing a downpour. I said to my driver, “the devil must be beating his wife.” He began to laugh uncontrollable. My first thought was, “dude, you say some crazy things too so how is that this is so funny.” I explained to the driver that the phrase explains a sun shower, where there may be raindrops while the sun is shining bright in the distance. In the Southern U.S., a sun shower is said to show that the devil is beating his wife because he is angry that God has created a beautiful day. I have no clue where this phrase came from but in researching the phrase, I learned that in Liberia, it is said that the “devil is fighting with his wife over a chicken bone.” Can you imagine…

What really has me excited to talk about the weather is what I recently learned watching CNN. Have you ever heard of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)? If you are like me, you have never heard of this term. However, the ITCZ circles the Earth near the equator, where the trade winds of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres come together. For those of us living in the southern U.S., it is a contributing factor to the formation of hurricanes that develop off the coast of Africa and in the Atlantic Ocean and slowly make their way to the Central and North America.  During the months of April to November, the countries sandwiched in the ITCZ experience a series of thunderstorms. My Nigerian counterparts refer to this as the rainy season but for Americans living along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, this period also refers to hurricane season. I have always been fascinated by weather and especially hurricanes.  As a child, when hurricanes would form in the Atlantic Ocean, I would break out my hurricane-tracking map and plot its course using longitude and latitude. I was the nerd watching the weather channel for the tropical update each hour. I always knew that the storms that formed in the Atlantic swept off the coast of western Africa but I never knew that the rainy season and hurricane season had such a correlation.

The best example of this phenomenon is Hurricane Frederick, which hit the Alabama coast in 1979, three weeks after my birth. Hurricane Frederick caused significant damage along the Mississippi, Alabama and Wester Florida coastline. The Frederick was the costliest storm to hit the U.S. (until Hugo reclaimed the horrific honor in 1989). My parents tell the story that after giving me a bath and preparing me for bed, my dad went to lift me and rest my head on his shoulder. Instead, I slide out of his arm and landed on the floor. I began to cry and eventually became inconsolable. My parents decided that they needed to make a trip to the hospital. They dropped my brother off at my grandmother’s house and drove through the storm to the hospital. The doctor did a proper analysis and informed my parents that I was hungry and just wanted to be fed…

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