A Weather Anomaly I Love

What is it with those Canadians? We in the US have normal weather systems, with irregular shapes and often sprawling over hundreds of miles. But the Canadians, so much less extreme in all ways, have tidy, circular, self-contained, and relatively small rain storms,  arrayed like a string of pearls over their Great Plains region (which, I have been informed, is known locally not as plains but "prairie"). If you don't believe me, just check out this afternoon's radar images, shown on a Google Earth display via the wonderful real-time weather overlay. Click for larger, and to really see the effect.


In fairness, it's really the western Canadians who behave in this odd way. The people in Ontario are at the moment sharing a "normal" storm with their neighbors from Michigan to upstate New York. But what's the matter with Manitoba and Saskatchewan?

Before you click the "send 'gotcha' note to author" button, I should say that I do in fact know the reason for the odd Canadian weather patterns. As a hint, anyone who has ever been involved in aviation knows the reason too -- along with people in a number of other fields. I'll leave it as an open learning opportunity for all others. What is the internet if not an educational tool? Further clues in this closer-up shot of the plains provinces. Later I'll provide a NavCanada link that explains just what's going on.


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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