Monday, June 16, 2008

Potential Deal Breaker #1: Severe Weather

Deal breaker (noun): Any issue or factor that is significant enough to terminate a negotiation.
-Webster Dictionary

I was watching the NBA Finals last night when the telecast was interrupted by a meteorologist advising me to seek shelter. I had 90 minutes to prepare for a severe thunderstorm producing winds up to 80 miles per hour and hail the size of baseballs (later downgraded to ping pong balls, and then finally to quarters, thankfully.) This was my first red flag moment in Arkansas.

In every relationship, there are potential deal breakers. They start as red flags, and under careful monitoring, may turn out to be not that big of a deal. (Or at least not big enough to outweigh the good.) Others, however, may progress to bona fide deal breakers. Issues that will, quite literally, break you up. As I travel to various places, I will be sharing my list of potential deal breakers. Because while it helps to know what I want in a hometown, it also helps to know what I don’t want.

After dumping a fourth ice bucket full of rainwater into the sink (the A/C unit was gushing water into the hotel room at the storm’s peak, so I used the ice bucket to capture it), I began to wonder if living somewhere with severe weather might be a potential deal breaker. Arkansas is in the heart of Tornado Alley, after all. That’s no minor hazard. There have been over 1,000 twisters thus far in 2008, leading the National Weather Service to predict that this year is on track to break the record books.

I’d heard about the high number of tornado deaths (110 and counting) this year, but I hadn’t thought much about hail until I got here. Then I didn’t have to hear about it. I could see for myself. Here’s an example of a home in Fort Smith (where I am now) that looked boarded up and abandoned at first glance. Not so. Many buildings look like exactly this because almost all Westward-facing windows were bashed in by a major hail storm a month ago. And yes, with that storm, the hail was definitely the size of baseballs.

You can see the broken glass on this clock as well.

So the question is, would severe weather keep you from moving somewhere – especially in the age of global warming? What if you couldn’t get full-coverage insurance because storms/floods were so common? Or am I missing the big picture and failing to see that almost every place has a unique mélange of natural disasters (i.e. earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires in California)? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.


Alison said...

I'd say this one comes down to a question of the seriousness the relationship. Dating a place with a potential deal breaker like severe weather may be a lot of fun -- sort of a torrid affair. However, just like in other relationships, as soon as money becomes an issue the fun is going to taper off. Storm damage, inability to get full insurance coverage -- count me out. I'd rent, but not buy. And how lasting is that relationship? I could fall in lust, but never be comfortable enough to fall in love. Ahh... the bitter-sweet romance of it all...

Meg said...

If you have to seek serious shelter more than twice a year, then it's a deal breaker. There are too many cities with more agreeable climates to settle.

Jessica said...

Guess it really depends on your definition of severe weather -- baseball size hale -- yes, that qualifies. But what about blizzards? I just moved to Utah and live in the mountains... this is no dating scenario -- I've committed. BUT have yet to see the worst that winter can bring. Last year, there was one week that brought 84" of snow. To this CA girl, that is a deal breaker, but I am in it to win it, so I guess I'll have to adapt.