“Is it going to rain?” My tourist friend asked. That’s a loaded question that often betrays a hint of anxiety over atmospheric phenomenon that’s common among city folks. It’s a panic reaction to a threat of dampness in any form. Modern science has finally identified this chronic nervous disorder as,”Ombrophobia.” The fear of rain. As an ambassador of the tourist industry it is important to tell the tourists the truth when it comes to the impending probability of an atmospheric event.
Tourists are an important part of the tourist industry. They should be treated with empathy and respect. Knowing that, but for the grace of God any one of us could be tourists too, I think we owe our tourist friends more than the truth. I am not going to rain on someone’ vacation dreams by telling them it is going to rain.
The term rain itself is an outdated metric that’s led to centuries of confusion and debate. One person’s rain is another’s drizzle. What a tourist describes as rain would not qualify as a penetrating mist to a local.
Anthropologists tell us the Eskimos have over fifty different words for snow. Anthropologists have yet to determine just exactly how many words the people of the West End of the Olympic Peninsula have for rain but probably more than fifty. Many of which can’t be printed in the newspaper.
The people of the West End are inured to rain. Through generations of evolution, they have developed the ability to go fishing in weather that is far too wet to work in. For us, periodic rainfall events are a blessing from the heavens. Without rain there would be no fish in the rivers because there would be no rivers. Without rain there would be no rainforest. We need periodic gully washers to hatch the slugs, sprout the mushrooms and make the skunk cabbage bloom.
Sharing an appreciation of rain with the tourists can be difficult when it is actually raining. Soggy people often fail to appreciate the story of our seasonally adjusted jet stream pushing warm, moisture laden air up and over the icy mass of the Olympic Mountains releasing significant moisture accumulations. They often ask,
“Is it ever sunny here?” Ignoring the effects of the sun’s harmful rays
While millions of Americans are treated for sunburn and skin cancer caused by the sun’s harmful rays, no one has ever gotten a “rain burn,” or cancer from the rain. People are only just now realizing the health benefits of rain. But wait, there’s more!
The hidden dangers of sunshine are only now being exposed to the light of day by modern science. When the rain stops, there is dust, pollen and other pollutants in the air. Causing respiratory diseases for millions of people world-wide. Rain acts like a filter for our atmosphere giving us the cleanest air on the continental United States.
Heatstroke is another common, potentially fatal medical condition caused by exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Symptoms can include vomiting, headaches and fever in the sufferers of this condition. In all my years of guiding I have never seen anyone develop these symptoms in the rain. Unless they had one of my smoked salmon sandwiches. But that is another story.
The best way to answer tourist questions about when it will stop raining is to ask them what is the current temperature of their home town. Chances are they’ll say over ninety or more. The rest of the U.S. is sweltering. Rain is cool and as long as it keeps raining the Olympic Peninsula is the coolest place in the country.